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Another Council of Sorts

Posted on Mon Jun 14th, 2021 @ 2:52pm by King Aethan Velaryon & Lord Myles Lannister & Lady Shireen Velaryon & Lady Lynora Lannister & Lady Daena Celtigar & Steffon Lannister & Lord Garth Blackwater & Lady Joanna Hightower & Lord Jorah Farman & Lord Omer Redwyne & Lord Brannis Baratheon & Lord Robed Rykker & Ser Alixander Hightower & Lady Neia Greyjoy & Lady Renara Rykker & Lady Alysanne Oakheart & Lady Celyse Blackwater & Lady Helja Greyjoy

Mission: The Great Council
Location: Seasmoke Hold
Timeline: The Day after the First Day of the Great Council

The sun rose above Seasmoke Hold nearly at its midday apex. The events of the previous day had no sooner concluded, then Shireen was sending ravens to invite some key people to luncheon at the Velaryon's Capital residence.

The matriarch of the Velaryon family was quite pleased at the results of the Council the previous day. Her face would not help but smirk victoriously. Around the table were her invited guests and her own family. She sat forward in her seat, offered her grandson a pointed look and then opened her mouth to speak. "Thank you for coming. And thank you for your support yesterday." She spoke sincerely. "We stand now on the precipice, the dawning of a dynasty. I want us to be sure that we make the correct decision for the future of the Six Kingdoms."

While the thoughts of returning to hereditary rule was a topic of conversation all over Westeros, even long before the Great Council, now that it was reality things had changed for those vying to lead.

Garth Blackwater sat in his seat beside his granddaughter, whom he had brought with him to seek her assistance in his later deliberations. Though she was singularly lacking in ambition, Celyse had a keen mind and was near as observant as her grandfather.

"Here here," Garth said, gesturing with the golden rose at the end of his cane.

Aethan raised a brow, pleased that the Lord of Highgarden seemed so emphatic about the outcome of the council. "As my grandmother said, we have to think about the future. Not only who will lead us now, but who will lead our children, and their children. For generations to come."

Brannis glanced at Renn Baratheon, who had a look that was even more lost to his inner monologue than usual. He seemed to be keeping his head deliberately down, eyes off their guests. "You look like someone shot your favorite horse, boy. Sit up and smile, for Gods Sake," he muttered to his little brother. "A Council well met My Fellow Lords and Ladies. Strong rule, strong economy, stability are our future," he said. Renn dared a glance up at Aethan, and then down at the table.

"Economy and trade are high on my list as it happens." Aethan said, folding his hands on the table. "All my life the lords, merchants, and traders of the Six Kingdoms have been subjected to stringent sanctions on what and to whom they may trade." He shook his head. "My Maester tells me of times in the past when trade and commerce were much more open and free. This is what we need to get back to. Away from this borderline isolationist policy that has hindered our relations with the Free Cities, and the larger continent of Essos as a whole."

Brannis, again, wrapped on the table in agreement.

"When we reconvene, I want us to be sure we've put proper thought to the future of the monarchy," Aethan spoke with particular confidence and conviction that spoke to his maturity. "I am here before you a young man, promised to be married. I'm certain that should we be selected to rule; not only will our reign be long but God's willing we should be blessed with healthy and happy children to rule when we leave to the Stranger's embrace." Aethan was sure to make heavy religious references when he spoke. He knew many houses were much more pious than his own. "I don't want to speak ill of Lord Jonah, but he is man much older than myself, and unmarried. When we think about the future and the continued viability of the crown, middle-aged and alone doesn't come to mind."

“He is soon to rectify the issue of the marriage, Lord Aegon.” Garth spoke up again, knowing that little was known of the arrangements outside of Jonah’s own camp. “Lord Jonah is also to marry, though it has not yet been announced.”

"It seems to me," Lady Oakheart reflected, "That we must look more to the age of the bride than the groom in estimating the likely fertility of our future royal family."

Lady Hightower's face reddened slightly at that comment and she brought her drink to her lips.

"Lord Tully is a man of many admirable features," Brannis said. "And a deeply distinguished career. His family have risen from the ashes of the War of the Five Kings. But... so has Highgarden. So have the Stormlands. Our Lannisters have rebuilt... in context, these are expected and admirable. But if they make a King," Brannis grinned, "Well then we all should be. But the blood of Kings," he pointed gracefully Aethan, "Stands before you. Young, idealistic and open for a new world. Let us award Tully in the Council. Like he deserves. But a crown?" Brannis charmingly shook his head.

"It seems to me the blood of kings is not in short supply in this room," Lord Redwyne said wryly. "You have it yourself, Lord Baratheon. I am sure Lord Tully does as well. It is true that there was never a King in Riverrun but if we consult a Maester I am sure, in over a thousand years of marriage, they can trace descent from Fishers and Mudds and Hoares and what have you."

"Would you really follow a fish, Redwyne?" Helja Salt-hair spoke up, rising to her impressive height for her sex. Her icy eyes fell on the man who controlled the Isles. "Trout bathe in mud and eat worms. The Tullys have never been Kings because it is not in them." She shot a glance at Brannis and smirked, "And the less spoken of a Baratheon King, the better."

Brannis took her broadside with a chuckle and a purse of lips, looking back at Renn who stared at the woman.

"I imagine they know a great deal about the strength of Baratheon kings on the Iron Islands," Lord Farman offered darkly. "It is said that most Westerosi bear the blood of both the Andals and the First Men, whatever they might chose to call themselves. Among the high born, most of us also bear some of the blood of Old Valyria. The Targaryens, after all, did not only wed brother to sister. Few in this room could not trace some line of descent to Aegon the Conqueror or, even more distantly, to Lord Aenar who first settled upon Dragonstone. Still, it must be said that the Velaryons bear the closest relation to the Targaryens and, moreover, they are the greatest House to trace its origins to the Valyrian Freehold, one of the greatest and most powerful civilizations that ever was. They mastered magic and tamed dragons. They shook the world to its foundations and brought the Old Ghiscari Empire to its knees. The blood of Old Valyria is still revered throughout the world and associated with the union of these kingdoms. People remember not only the wars of the Targaryens but the long years of unity and strength. They even remember that Queen Daenerys, whatever her faults, brought the fires of her dragons to bear upon the Others and led the fight to beat back a second Long Night at the Battle of Winterfell." He looked far off somehow.

"Yet it is not to that day when Aegon Targaryen landed in fire and blood that we date our founding. It is to his coronation, which was in Oldtown, not King's Landing. No story tells how the great fortress of fused black stone that sits at the base of the Hightower came to be. It has been for as far back as stories go. That island has always been called Battle Isle. No one knows what battle it is named for, against what...or whom. It is much like the dragonroads of Valyria but perhaps more like Five Forts at the northern edge of Yi Ti, the building of Yeen and Asshai, and the great stone before which the Bloodstone Emperor bowed. In the jungles of Leng..." He trailed off for a moment. His eyes seemed haunted. Then he turned once more to the Greyjoys. "It is like, also, the Seastone Chair. The Kings of the Hightower built four wooden towers atop this ancient and strange place before King Uthor wed the daughter of Garth Greenhand and commissioned Bran the Builder to create a great stone tower, before his son King Urrigon founded the Citadel which to this preserves the knowledge of ages and whose maesters advise and teach and heal throughout Westeros, before Lord Jason Hightower built it yet higher, higher than the Wall, higher than any structure built by the hand of man, to light the way for all at sea as the Citadel and the Starry Sept lit the way. The ancient Hightower kings never expanded far beyond their original domain and never aspired to do so. They built walls to defend their city and made a pact by marriage to with the kings of the Reach and have served the Lords of Highgarden ever since, yet to them is still entrusted one of the oldest and most vital institutions in Westeros and none who trace their origin to the First Men, not even the Stark kings who rule to the North, can make a more ancient claim. Surely the union of the power of Old Valyria and the light of the Hightower is the stuff of legends and blood of kings. However, I suppose Lord Tully might trace his line to some river king of House Mudd or House Fisher before those lands became a contested boundary between the Storm Kings and the Ironborn."

Lady Hightower was studying him carefully. He was supporting Aethan's claim and her own but she seemed distracted by the rest of what he'd said. "You have read Archmaester Quillion, I take it? And Maester Theron? And seen the ruins of Leng? I have heard it is death for a foreigner."

"It is where I met my wife, my lady," Lord Farman answered. "I would be happy to tell you of it."

"Yes, well..." Lord Redwyne seemed uncomfortable. "Lord Tyrion Lannister invited in the elective monarchy on the basis of who had the best story. I suggest we look at things more practically this time."

"We shouldn't fault Lord Lannister for his vision of a better world," it was the tall, slender Renn who stood up. We all come from people who agreed to it. We all lost so much back then. We rebuilt it together. It made sense then."

"And we will end it together," Brannis rose next to his brother. "With some concessions to our Bannermen, of course. We have learned it is better to have a King with a strong hand on the rudder, than one whose power comes from an election."

Lord Myles Lannister had sat silently until mention of his family's role in the failure of the elective. The old Lion smiled. "The days of old men leading the kingdoms are long behind us. We have known this for some time. It is time the old men step aside and stop impeding progress. We need a young leader, with fresh eyes. One who is not set in his ways. We need King Aethan." The Lannister lord looked pleased with his assertions.

Shireen smirked and clapped.

“Ironic that such an old man should say it.” Lord Rykker said, running his fingers through his scraggly beard from his position next to his wife. She frowned at his statement slightly, her beautiful freckled face scrunching, but said nothing. “But the old man speaks truth. It is time for the rule of those who still have the vigor to enforce their commands. Aye, King Aethan is the man for the job.”

Lord Robed neglected to mention that he himself was approaching his fifth decade. In his mind, he was still as vigorous and strong as a twenty year old.

Aethan blushed slightly. "I am flattered at the words of support from Lords who I admire greatly." He thought for a moment. "I know I have spoken with Lord Garth personally about how I hoped to employ his expertise if I ascend to the throne. And I know there are others here with whom discussions have happened. I want to be plain, when I become King it is my hope that I can depend upon the council of my Lords on any matter that affects the realm. I want only the best for the Kingdoms. To return them to their place as a great power in the world."

"But what if you don't become King, my Lord?" asked Renara Rykker, standing up and causing the bottom of her otherwise tight black dress to billow out in its designed flowing pattern. She fixed her eyes on Lord Aethan, her hands clasped in front of her. "Forgive my presumption, Lord Aethan, of course we support you, but I must ask what you might do if the Fish of the Twins should be victorious in the council. Will you serve him as King or will you make sure that the right man sits the throne?"

It was an extremely provocative question and a slight grin crossed her beautiful freckled face as the Lords and Ladies gathered around the table began to whisper and comment to one another. Despite Lord Robed's obvious displeasure at her question, Renara fixed her eyes directly on the silver-haired Lord.

"I have confidence in the wisdom of the Council and I'm certain they will make the correct decision." Aethan chose his words carefully. "The Tully's have kept themselves quite removed from the affairs rest of the realm, depending instead on relations with the Stark's Kingdom of the North. House Velaryon will not bow to a King who's ignorance of the people of the rest realm has been noted for the last century."

The whispers continued, even as Lady Rykker lifted her chin.

"You mean to tell us that you will not accept Lord Jon as King, even if the Council elects him?" she asked, her feelings a mix within her, but none of them showing on her face. She cared nothing for Jonah Tully or his claim to the throne, but she did care for Edric Martell, and she wanted whatever he did. "I think these loyal men and women around this table deserve some time to prepare their banners if you mean to call them, Lord Aethan."

At this, Lord Robed stood next to Renara's wrist and squeezed it so tightly that she winced in pain for a brief moment before she comported herself.

"Forgive my Lady Wife, my Lord, her curiosity and her mouth get the better of her more often than I like." the gruff man said, his face stuck in a frown. "Consider her absurd question revoked."

"I have only said that I and my house will not pledge themselves to a Tully king. " Aethan said slowly. "God's be Good, the council will make the right choice."

Lady Rykker allowed her husband to guide her back into her seat. She ignored his irritated expression and cast her head down toward the ground. She'd heard enough as far as she was concerned.

Brannis Baratheon stood and posed with a roguish thoughtfulness at the Lady Rykker. "A powerful woman, I admire your spirit madam," he said with a nod, ever the compromiser. "The Stormlands will stand with House Velaryon. We have great admiration for Jon Tully. But he is not a young man and there are," he shrugged some, "Oh, rumors, perhaps more than rumors, that Tully plans to take a Dornish wife. And that is," Brannis shrugged again with a grimness, "Not something Storm's End can stand behind. We of Storm's End remember what the Wyls of the Marches did to our people. The Dornish are part of the Kingdoms," he nodded, "And we accept this, we have found a balance. But they are peculiar to the rest of Westeros. A Dornish Queen would outlive Lord Tully and that, my Lords and Ladies, will precipitate a crisis of our laws."

Renn looked on as Brannis continued, "The ways of the Rhoynish include laws of inheritance foreign to those north of their rivers. A Dornish Queen could make moves to seat a daughter- or herself- as our next Sovereign. She could favor her lands over Highgarden and Storm's End. That fragile balance is at risk. And I for one will not easily bend a knee and damage that balance."

"We also remember Dornish atrocities in those long-ago wars," Lady Oakheart added. "We do not wish to bow to them. What was paid for so dearly is not so easily surrendered. Long ago, when they married into a long-established dynasty, we had no choice but to accept it. That is no longer the case today." She did not look to her lord or to any other Lords of the Reach before speaking.

"House Redwyne shall do as the Reach does. We shall answer if the banners are called." Lord Redwyne said in a tone that seemed to say he hadn't been planning to speak at all except as an implicit rebuke to Lady Oakheart.

Lady Hightower frowned and sipped her wine. She said nothing at all but her hands were so tight on the glass they were practically white.

The Lord of Highgarden liked very little of what he was hearing, but he did not make his displeasure known. The age point got him well enough, but the rebuke of the Dornish based on slights hundreds of years past seemed to him to be surpassing silliness. He pursed his lips and looked around the table observing the faces around. His gaze fell on Lady Oakheart and he did not feign happiness at what she said. Lord Redwyne had the best of it, he thought, in supporting whoever in the Seven Hells Garth told him to.

“My Lords, if minds are made up then all we are doing is struggling to justify ourselves.” He said, his tone clear and thoughtful as he looked around the room. “I hope that this Council shall settle the matter and that all Lords will respect its result no matter if it benefits them or not. So let us not talk now of raising arms, but of building kingdoms.”

He was not for making war over such a situation. If the election was fair, he would support who won and would name any other man a traitor.

“Lord Aethan, what do you believe should be done about the recent threats made by Dorne to leave the Six Kingdoms as did the North.” Garth asked, changing the subject. “For that matter, what do you think about the North?”

Aethan was thoughtful in his response. "Frankly, Dorne has been threatening to leave the comfort and protection of the Kingdoms for 300 years. And yet, they have never done so. Because at the heart of the matter they know that they will be cutting ties with the trade, and commerce afforded to them as one of the Six Kingdoms." Lord Aethan place his hands on the table. "As for the North, they were long a neglected Kingdom under Targaryen rule. They spent a long time supporting themselves and doing their part for the Realm. After countless wars, the losses were seen as too great to continue to support the realm and rebuild their own Kingdom. Their decision to leave was for the preservation of the North, and after their service to the realm, it was welcome by the Great Council of 305 AC."

Lord Rykker watched his liege lord and a flash of curiosity crossed his mind as he heard him speak.

"Hold on...so you're saying you don't think either of them will move an inch? Or are you saying that, as King, you'll just let them do whatever they want?" he asked pointedly. Lord Rykker was a man of action who had always regretted the dissolution of the Seven Kingdoms. The idea that they might now become Five was repugnant to him.

Pursing his lips, Aethan responded to Lord Rykker. "I've said nothing to either effect Lord Robed. I am saying, I believe the threats of the Dorne's secession are hollow, and will be dealt with as they arise. And to the issue of the North. Their independence was declared one hundred years ago. A lifetime before you and I were living. I can't see the point in raising that issue now. " He paused. "The North is an ally to the Kingdoms and a prominent trade partner. That is that."

"A king who has already pledged himself publicly to a particular policy enters negotiations with his hands tied," Lady Hightower said. "A king requires freedom of action, to negotiate, to take counsel, to assess his actions. We are not seeking an agent to carry out our will in every eventuality but a king to trust with power. Why else strengthen the monarchy?"

Garth smiled at that and cast his eyes down toward the table. He was glad that Joanna was willing to use her voice in this way for the sake of the realm. He was testing the boy, but she had the better answer.

"Of course you're right, Lady Joanna. It may be unwise to prejudice royal decisions like this too much in case the situation changes."

"My dear Lady Joanna speaks with wisdom that I have come to value from her. As wise as the most learned Maester, her counsel is one I value above most others and have since our youth." Aethan spoke in an even tone. "In truth, settling back in to a empowered monarchy will be a process of learning. While I understand the fundamentals of rule from my family's managing Dragonstone and Driftmark, and the foundation of military leadership throughout close work with the Royal Fleet, I will still rely on close counsel to navigate the changes that will affect the realm near and far."

Lileander Baratheon rose in all her somber mourning attire for Wayn. "Perhaps as future Sovereign of the Six Kingdoms, my Lord Dragonstone, you would consider a contrast to your youth and vigor for Hand? Perhaps a man of age, wisdom, and experience of being a steward to the land and its wealth. Dragonstone and Driftmark are important lands in the Crown's Jewels but the bounties from their land and the numbers of their people are dwarfed by the whole of Westeros. Its wealth is from the seas around it, not from the Earth itself." Her angle features regarded the young man with kindness but scrutiny.

"I have already discussed with Lord Garth about taking up the mantle as my Hand." Aethan said with some confidence. "As you've said Lady Lileander, He is a man long lived, with the wisdom to be a guiding hand to a young monarch."

Lord Myles Lannister shook his head but remained silent. There was something in him that had hoped the role of Hand would be his when the Velaryon's took the throne.

Garth wiggled uncomfortably. Word would be spreading very soon that he was a wildcard; hopefully no one would suspect him of being disloyal considering his support formally rested with Lord Tully. Celyse put her hand on her grandfather's, knowing herself the gravity of this situation. Very tricky indeed.

Shireen watched the unspoken exchange between the Blackwaters.

“When we gather tomorrow in the Dragonpits, I want to be sure we’re prepared to make decisions for real change.” Aethan said. “We have this amazing opportunity and I pray to the Gods we don’t waste it on the wrong choice. Because it cannot be taken back once it it made.”

Shireen stood with the aid of her silver cane. "My Lord, Ladies. Today we have come together from all corners of the realm to discuss the future of the Six Kingdoms. Progress has certainly been made. God's willing, we will have a smooth transition regardless of the outcome at tomorrow's Great Council." She grasped the head of her cane with both hands. "Thank you for your time today, and for the spirited conversation."

 

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