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A Family Reunion

Posted on Wed Apr 28th, 2021 @ 2:21am by Lady Lileander Baratheon & Lord Garth Blackwater

Mission: The Great Council
Location: The Grapevine Estate

Lileander drew back the privacy curtain of her sedan palisade yet again, resting her eyes from the dull lighting within. She was reading a treatise on the pros and cons of elected governance supplied to her by the Baratheon Maester, Poe. But it was mere distraction: the clouds of her spirit entailed the impenetrable, irritating stubborn of Baratheon blood once it had been made up. Brannis was much like his father and stubbornly like every other Baratheon. When she felt the sedan chair halt and lower, Lileander clamored out with the aide of a footman.

"I won't be long." a flustered Lileander said to the puffing footman who had carried her here. Lileander would have come by coach- but her sons had taken it to meet with the Tullys. She smoothed hands down her mourning attire- black and black lace- and drew down her veil. She proceeded to the gates and beckoned a soldier of Highgarden to let her in and show her the way to her Father and family. She knew the estates well enough, but it had been years since she had been inside. Perhaps it had changed. Or perhaps not.

Lileander was shown through the gate and into the beautifully decorated path flanked with flowers on both sides. The guard showed her to the area where her Lord Father was picking grapes and gathering them in a great sack. As she approached, he stood and smiled at her from beneath his floppy hat.

“Lileander!” He exclaimed, stepping toward her with arms outstretched. “How long has it been, my dear?”

"Papa," Lileander said, the intellectual coolness of the Lady Baratheon melted with fondness. She was embraced and embraced her father back, "Too long. Storm's End is too far from our castle," she said when she pecked his cheek.

"Well, we miss you at Highgarden. I think even Colin has washed to see you at least once." Garth said, releasing his daughter and offering a warm smile. The old man then turned to the vine on-which he had been working and pulled off a bunch of grapes at the stem. Turning back to Lileander, he began to pick the grapes off one by one and pop them into his mouth passed his white whiskers. "Tell me, Lileander, how are things with your family? How are my grandchildren?"

"Brannis has grown rich," Lileander confided with a sigh, "Perhaps at the cost of his soul. But the Stormlanders flourish. He uses his money amply to benefit Storm's End. Renn..." she tilted her head with the worry that she always had, "He's... so sad... of disposition so often. He prefers the company of his bird and his horse, than with most others. His circle of friends is quite small. I worry for him." She tried to brighten, "But he means to serve our new King or Queen."

"Wealth can rot the heart of a man, trust me, I know." Garth said with a concerned expression. "Do tell Brannis that. It is not, in the end, what makes us rich that brings us closer to the Seven, but what makes us poor."

He swallowed the grapes he had been chewing and, closed his eyes.

"These grapes grow perfectly in King's Landing; sweeter than a baby's smile, the are." he said, shifting his gaze back to his daughter. "As for Renn, I hope his melancholy as least comes from a keen mind; with a weapon like that, he would serve any King or Queen well as with a sword. Speaking of royalty, my dear, I would like to ask your council. I have always found your perspective refreshing."

“Of course Father,” Lileander stated with a knit of worry at his brow. She hesitantly moved to pluck a single grape from the vine and chewed it with a pleased look, “Wine in the Stormlands is so... sour. They’re so overly fond of dry flavors. And their overexaggeration of that acidic cherry-like flavor of their beers.” She sighed, “I miss days in the Vineyards.”

"A true Reachman can make the garden grow where he is." he said, reminding his daughter of a lesson he gave many times when he was young. "Remember our words, dear: 'Forward From Beneath'. Our family grew from nothing to be Lords of the Reach and I intend that we should grow further; only, such growth doesn't come without pain. I mean to say that we must adjust to our present circumstance and find a way to move beyond it."

He dropped the bare stem he was holding to the ground and wiped the condensasion from the outside of the grapes together between his fingers.

"We have grown into the Stormlands through you, so I suspect you know the business of your new Realm and the mind of your family. What, then, is Brannis planning to do at the coming Great Council?"

Lileander nodded her head, “He means to uphold alliances past and present as much as he can. He prefers the Velaryon boy. He wants a malleable King that has the man and the blood. But he wants an astute statesman as his Hand. Someone who can steer that Aethan boy into good stewardship, and not his Grandmother.” She smiled, “Someone like you, Papa.” She took his hands, “He feels Lord Tully is too rigid.” She dared ask, “Whom do you favor, Papa?” She smiled and touched his hair, “You’d like a fine King yourself.”

"I favor neither, Lileander." he answered genuinely. "They are both acceptable options, especially for us. Tully is experienced and honourable while Aethan is energetic and malleable. The thing is that I have already told Lord Jon that he would have my support. I plan to adjust that conviction if he isn't favored in the Council and have already set our family up to gain much in either case."

Another man would be proud of such successful cleverness, but Garth bore no sign of self-congratulation. Thinking and planning was like breathing to him; it was only natural that these things panned out.

"As for me, I am too old." he said with a chuckle. "And you know how leading from the front tires me. I'm more a Kingmaker than a King."

"Not too old to be a Hand, Papa, and wisdom needs to temper these energetic boys," she noted with a thin raised eyebrow. "I counseled Brannis to keep his options open as well... he's as bullheaded as that oaf of a Great Great Grandfather of his. In his own way. He should be meeting with Lord Tully as we speak. He took Renn with him but Renn seemed hesitant to go. His mind's been so distracted since we came to King's Landing."

“Let us keep in touch then, Lil, that we may move together when the time is right. I intend to win by either candidate.”

Just as he finished his sentence, a rustling in the grass behind them announced the pretense of Colin, Lileander’s younger brother.

“Well, look who’s decided to visit.” He said with a mean grin. “I was starting to think you’d forgotten where you came from; too wrapped up in black hair and wind.”

"You speak ill of a dying man," Lileander said with her own pinched smile. "The Gods remember slights like that, Brother." She folded her hands in front of her, assuming her mantle of patient, almost Maetser-like calm, "I've had a Kingdom to help run, and raise three children. What kept you from visiting me?"

“You know that, of all the things the Gods may hunt me for, mockery is the most mild.” He said, jokingly. “Perhaps I was too busy with the ladies of Highgarden, dear sister. I heard the women of Storm’s End have gale-force winds escaping their cunts when at play.”

Garth winced behind them, but said nothing. He wasn’t a fan of crassness, but these sorts of things we’re beyond his command in his second son.

“You know how I hate weather.” Colin concluded, his eyes moving over the rows of grapes neatly placed.

Lileander smiled her patient smile in the face of her father's wince. She had grown accustomed to the hard speaking, hard-drinking culture of Peket, women and salt-bitten sailing that was Storm's End. "They would find you mild, dear Brother, in Storm's End. I've done my best to introduce Highgarden's better halves to my children."

"Enough." Garth said, gently, as he made his way between his two children. He gestured at Colin with his cane. "Hush, boy, I needs talk with your sister about important matters."

"The family reunion portion is over then?" Colin asked, a jester's smile on his face.

Garth turned toward Lileander, ignoring his son's question.

"Now, Lil, tell me, what is your boy's perception of Highgarden and the alliance we now share?" He asked, looking at his daughter with intense grey eyes, his curiosity obvious.

"Brannis and Renn are both men deeply devoted to peace, Papa. I've raised them to know that war is a tragedy. Renn wants to serve our next King. He dreams of being Kingsguard." She began, "But the alliance between the Stormlands and Highgarden is strong. They are concerned about the Great Council. I am afraid that if we are not in step, we could misstep. What are the intentions of Dorne? The Riverlands?"

"To sit a King in a capital, as far as I know." Garth answered matter-of-factly. "I'm sure Dorne has its reasons, but it sounds like Prince Nymor is most interested in having his daughter sit as Queen while he returns to Sunspear. I doubt the Reach and the Stormlands have much to fear, particularly because Lod Jonah seems an honourable man, but I doubt the Marcher Lords in both our Kingdoms would agree."

"To sit one of theirs on the Throne..." Lileander said. "I believe Brannis prefers the Velaryon boy. More moldable, and he can pull the strings more easily. The Velaryons have been Baratheon vassals before. The Tullys, are Tullys."

"I will be the one to pull the strings." Garth said, then suddenly serious. His expression was not unkind, but was stone cold frozen. He gave his daughter a look she was familiar with, indicating without speaking that he had full intention of running the entire show. "And I agree that the strings of Lord Velaryon are more easily pulled. Be sure that my grandson knows where his loyalties lie when the time comes to decide the policies of the Realm. I would hate to see a plan 40 years in the making come crashing down because he has no respect for his grandsire."

Garth placed his cane strongly, smiling then at his daughter. He stilled remembered when he used to bounce her on his lap. He placed a hand on her shoulder then and looked at her lovingly.

"Together, this family build a new future for the Six Kingdoms. Disunited, we will only watch that future dictated by Lannisters, Tullys, Martells, Arryns, and Greyjoys. We must be strong and we must work together. Do you understand what I'm saying, Lileander?"

Lileander took her Father's hand with the beaming countenance of a proud daughter, "You would make a wonderful Hand, Father, to a new, young King for a new era. And the image is like p[Providence... a great steward of the land, and a master of the sea, working together. The perfect hand-off from one generation to the next. I believe I understand what you say. They have always been respectful men." She chuckled and touched his hair, "Has any man of Westeros ever willingly followed an Ironborn?" She sighed, "Barbarians."

Garth smiled. His daughter had always had a fire he admired. “Whatever King we have, let us make sure there are Blackwaters and Baratheons at his side.”



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