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Posted on Thu Mar 18th, 2021 @ 3:06pm by Ser Stevron Velaryon & Ser Erac Greyjoy & Lady Helja Greyjoy & Lady Neia Greyjoy

Mission: The Great Council
Location: Reaper’s Keep
Timeline: The day after the Reception

Stevron had been selected by his Mother to seek out the Ironborn delegation and steer them in the Velaryon direction. He rode on horseback from Seasmoke Hold along with Ser Tristor Celtigar a cousin who was a member of the Velaryon’s house guard. The ride felt like an eternity to Stevron who had no love for the Ironborn.

The pair stopped just short of Reaper’s Keep, the Greyjoy manse in King’s Landing. It was a visual offense, and one done on purpose. Possibly even out of contempt. In the crafted surroundings of King's Landing, the Reaper's Keep dared to be both crude and foreboding. It wanted to be fear-inducing and ugly. It sat as narrow as a pike, its stone an unpleasant gray that reminded of dingy bone. Its gates were salt-crusted iron, its edges deliberately sharp and accented with both hooks and shark's teeth. Within, the manse was cold and passing dark despite the daylight. Only torches gave spotlights of warmth and light. And the walls themselves seemed to have eyes until one looked closer-not eyes, but arrow slits.

There was no art. There was no furniture. In fact the feeling of the manse was that there was no one at home. It echoed footsteps. This was an alien place, a dour place, and one not commonly inhabited. Lord Stevron and his guard were led by a single boy who had to have been ten and three years, who in his slenderness also had an eerie hardness.

He carried a pike roughly three feet taller than himself, barbed with a serrated fish-hook-like blade at the end. It resembled what a nightmare of a chirurgeon might use to take a diseased limb. Its capped butt tapped rhythmically as the boh walked. He was immensely pale, like someone had drowned him and he'd been resurfaced. He had a lazy eye marred white, and a scar that no one so young should have had to bear, which crossed his bad eye and robbed him of part of his nostril.

The enormity of the Iron fleet had sailed into the Blackwater, passing with tense quiet through the fleet at Driftmark. Now they lay anchored outside of the ports, rotating by agreement so only a few ships moored at a time. It was the first time they had set foot in King's Landing since King Wayn's coronation.

They ascended rounding staircase after rounding staircase to the top of the pike-like tower, made slick by some skald or salt-wife having washed them. Finally, at the top, the boy knocked and opened a door.

Here there was some semblance of life- but its dark reflection, like the stuff of unsettling dreams. It was still austere to the point of feeling abandoned, yet it was warmer and lit. But the lighting only seemed to make the gray of the stone more desolate and craggy. The sole decor was a wall hanging- old and worn- clearly made of sail canvas. It depicted a massive Kraken in a stormy tempest as if materializing from a thunderhead. It looked more foreboding gothic horror than romantic.

"Lord Stevron," the boy said with no particular inflection, not even bringing up Velaryon's escort. He blinked his one good, washed-out gray eye. There was a feeling of a shadow creeping behind Stevron and Celtigar but the boy gestured to two women speaking. Their murmurs were private but halted when the one with white hair raised a hand. The one with dark hair and half a blue face silenced. They turned to look at their guests.

"Leave us, Milkeye," the dark one said with a harsh chin jut. The boy nodded and moved away, shutting the door behind him.

"Velaryon," Helja Salt-hair stated in plain greeting. The echo was harsh in the room. She gave a brittle nod of respect, her eyes not leaving his. She gestured, "The captain of my fleet, Neia." Neia too nodded respectfully at the Master of Ships, and like her mother, Neia's eyes stayed steadily on the man.

“My Lady.” As much disdain as he held for the Greyjoys, he had to observe pleasantries and bow slightly in greeting. “When we heard the Iron fleet had arrived I wanted to make a point of meeting with you personally on behalf of my House.”

Helja nodded at Neia who assumed, for the moment, the mantle of the conversation. Helja withdrew into the eerie flickering shadows, gathering a map scroll. "Lord Velaryon," Neia said with a clear and resonant voice, "You're the first but you won't be the last."

"Our fleet is here," Helja said from the dimness, and Neia looked behind her with a raised brow over her shockingly blue eyes, "To make sure that Westeros makes the correct choice this time." The Salt-hair returned, tapping a rolled scroll into her hand.

Neia narrowed eyes at Stevron, more like she was studying this soft-to-Ironborn-eyes Westerosi noble than with blanket contempt.

Stevron nodded. "That's what we want as well. A return to the old ways, and to give the Iron Islands the independence you were promised." He hoped being upfront would work to his advantage.

"Independence we've taken while Waynn was busy fingering the asses of his Pages and bedded other men's wives," Helja Salt-hair stated with an inscrutable line to her mouth, "His neglect bred what ride on the waters outside," she added, leaning on the table. Her eyes fixed on the Velaryon, "We are back, Velaryon. And we will not go quietly again." But she nodded, "If that is respected, then we can talk more. If your kind can't stomach us, Milkeye will show you out." She unrolled the scroll of a map. And in vellum's thick slap it unfurled on the table. "Do you make a claim from the Iron Throne, or your mother, or that pretty Prince of Dragonstone?"

Ron nodded firmly. "My nephew is at the head of the family. "

Neia looked at her mother, and Helja at her. Helja looked down and with a searching finger pointed at a small island within the Velaryon Crownlands. "This will buy our cooperation, Lord Velaryon. Our fleet will focus on Slaver's Bay and the Summer Isles, not Westerosi ports. But our price is here. We want this island, to do with and build as we please. It is a long journey back to Pyke from Essos. Without it, Dornish ports and the bays of the Reachmen will have to suffice."

Stevron leaned in to look at the map. He cleared his throat. "An island."

"An island," Hilja replied, "Lord Velaryon. Will buy our vote and our fleet should the vote not go our way."

“Consider it done.” Stevron said, knowing he didn’t really have the latitude to make such promises. Still, he knew the support was needed, in particular from the houses on the western coast, far from the Velaryon’s regional power. “Trade with Essos is of importance to all of the Six Kingdoms. When the time come that will need to be negotiated into a tidy arrangement suitable for everyone.”

Helja Salt-hair smiled and drew a curved dagger- almost certainly booty taken from Meereen or Astapor, for it had the look of Slaver's Bay. "Swear it in Velaryon blood, Lord Stevron, with me and your Seven Gods watching."

Stevron nodded firmly. "I swear to it, before The Seven and by the blood of Old Valyria."

"We swear to the Drowned God, what is dead can never die," Helja cut into her arm, blood dripping on the blade with not even a flinch. Then she passed the knife to Stevron to follow up.

Stevron followed suit, copying Helja's motions as he cut himself. He, however, did flinch as the blade opened his arm. "Must everything to do with the Iron Islands end with blood?"

Helja was stone-faced in her answer, "Yes," she said flatly. Neia's shockingly azure eyes studied the man and then flicked to the shadows. "Masters of the world aren't afraid to shed a little blood."

Ron shrugged. "I prefer to make deals over wine. Since we've observed your preference, perhaps we can move on to mine?"

Helja nodded her assent once, "Speak."

"Even though the Iron Islands will enjoy official independence from the throne of the Six Kingdoms, we have always depended upon the Iron fleet to supplement our fleet in the east. I want to be sure our two powers can remain allied in that sense as well." Ron spoke from his short experience as Master of Ships, and his long history as a Commander in the Royal Fleet.

Helja looked to Neia and then back, "We agree."

"Fantastic!" Ron said. "Now, wine!"

Helja assented her head once in the cold stoicism of the Ironborn. Neia chin-jutted and from the shadows Milkeye appeared again, his flaxen hair limp on his head just obscuring his good eye. He carried three metal ale tins and set them down. The boy opened the bottle with a strike of the blade at the glass neck. He poured three glasses. Helja picked up hers and Neia hers as well.

Stevron followed suit. If there was something the Ironborn knew it was their drink. "To a renewed friendship and the future our our two peoples." He said, raising his glass to the sky.

Helja and Neia raised theirs as well, "To our futures. Apart, allied and finally equal."

Ron raised an eyebrow and drank, taking a deep and long swig of his wine.


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