Icecrown - Frigid Eastern Coast of Skagos
"Lost... I am lost." The twisted and angered voice speaks aloud to no one in particular. The male covers his eyes, gazing off upon the endless cracked leagues of ice and snow. He hisses between his teeth, before taking a drink of the rapidly dwindling wine skin. "I was once a prince... no... no... I was the Crown Prince, I was the heir to a kingdom." He kicks at the frozen remains of a long dead seal. His eyes narrow hatefully, full of barely contained madness and malevolence. He takes a few more steps, before falling to his knees in the snow, the soft crunch and cracking sounds echoing off the valley walls to either side. "I was son to the most powerful man in the world once...I was destined to become... so much more." He slumps back onto his haunches, licking the cold and cracked lips that had once been the delight and desire of an entire realm.
"That old man took everything from me... he cheated me of my destiny. Of my birthright." He licked his lips once more, before forcing himself back up to his feet. "Trapped like a rat, on the ass end of the world, with nothing but the dead and dying to keep me company... and..." He turned, looking back to a ruined tower-house... "Well, much and more." He squinted his eyes venomously at the sun above, before turning and stalking back to the tower-house, muttering to himself lower than before. "Sun will be setting soon... soon it will be dark... cold... and then they will come... oh yes... howling and chittering in their harsh barbaric language. But we both know... a dragon eats any and all, it doesn't shy away from meat..."
A Golden Dragon, A Black Heart - Blackwater Bay
Prince Corlys sat upon a worn chair, slowly and methodically sharpening his blade. Dark violet eyes peered out from a weather worn face, scanning the snapping banners and creaking hulls of the hundreds of ships rocking back and forth. The rhythmic scraping and grinding echoing out across the bay, the only noise that the Targaryen Prince heard. The world seemed to ebb and flow around the chair and man, his breathing slow, measured, paced with each precise movement of stone against steel. The muscled hands gripped each tool without fear, without hesitation, moving mechanically as the man's mind thought inwards, looking upon a world all his own.
'A royal wedding and feast, tournament and festivities. All for my dear cousin Maegelle... and some lofty Arryn. No doubt some contrite pretense for Aerys to garner glory for his beloved boy... what a waste. Had only the sickness taken a few more... had a woman proven barren...' He looked up from his work, now focused intently upon the glory of the Red Keep. It had a cruel beauty to it, a might that was wrought in blood and fire, pain and misery, triumph and achievement. A seat befitting a warrior king, a conqueror, rather than the asses of timid men who had come after. How he had longed to sit the Iron Throne as a youth, now for such a dream to be taboo, even then deep within his heart, that wanton desire burned with the kindled fury of Wildfyre. Closing his eyes, he set aside the blade, stone, and oil cloth, to free himself from his thoughts and musings, and rose to his feet.
"The wedding will be soon, and soon, the King will return, with all his glory and majesty, let us not disappoint him. Make way for the harbor, let us be done with this leisurely pace, and find some warm food, wine, and women..." He smiled, as he turned to his squire, handing the youth the blade. "You might even win yourself some acclaim... now hurry along Wensington, your mother insisted I take you as my squire, and thus far, she was good in that judgement as she is in bed." He spoke curtly, striding as a man with the intent purpose of being done with the business of the day, so that he might retire to endeavors more enjoyable to his own tastes. Soon, Prince Corlys "The Black" would be walking the streets and thoroughfares of Kings Landing.
The Hands of Gold - A Kings Landing Tavern
"So this is where Lord Tyrion hid his lady love... the woman he threw away his life for." The youthful prince spoke aloud to his companions. His silver blonde hair shown brightly in the flickering torchlight of the tavern. "She would appear to be ungrateful... to have been given all of this, a Lord and Hand's love and affection, and to throw it back in his face. A pity... yet, they say love is fickle, and that it blinds even the greatest of us." He mused mirthfully, before breaking into a sweet bit of song from the False and the Fair.
"The lord he came a-riding upon a rainy day, hey-nonny, hey-nonny, hey-nonny-hey...
The lady sat a-sewing upon a rainy day, hey-nonny, hey-nonny, hey-nonny-hey.
Hey-nonny, hey-nonny, hey-nonny-hey.
The lady lay a-kissing, upon a mound of hay,hey-nonny, hey-nonny, hey-nonny-hey..."
"Oh end your singing, you keep that up, my prince, and all the women in this tavern will be too interested to take notice of the rest of us." Ser Willem Frey of Darry said playfully, pushing the Prince on his right arm. "You have a delightfully beautiful wife as well, no need to be greedy now." He laughed cheerfully among the rest of the party, as they found themselves seated at a large oaken table.
"Yes, our noble Prince Gaemon, patron of song and dance and music, stay thine tongue and hand, so that we may enjoy what King's Landing has to offer in entertainment, both of the voice and of the flesh..." A hulking ox of a man bellowed out from behind a massive mustache. "You keep your pretty eyes and tongue to yourself, or I be having words with you. Us common knights need to have some love too, you know." He smiled brightly, before taking a swig of ale for himself.
"Ser Lyle Bracken, King's Landing has women to offer, not horses. If you wish to rut about like a beast in heat, you need only head to the Royal Stables..." Prince Gaemon jested back, pointing his fork at the hulking knight. "Unless, you want to risk crushing these dainty women beneath your mammoth body." The party laughed brightly, watching as Ser Lyle rolled his eyes and turned red from both amusement and embarrassment. Soon enough, serving women had made their way over to the tables occupied by the Prince and his retinue, much to their delight.
Gaemon watched his noble knights and friends enjoy themselves, after riding hard for King's Landing. They had dallied at a few castles and halls along the way, enjoying the weather, the outdoors, and of course, being away from their duties back home. Tired and road weary, it had been Gaemon himself who had suggested they enjoy some revelry outside of the Red Keep, and the tourney grounds, before preparing for the wedding, tournament, and all that entailed. The King was still gone of course, but, knowing Aerys, he'd arrive last minute as always, no doubt with some surprise wedding gift for his niece Maegelle. Ever since her father died, Aerys had been their for her and her siblings, doing all he could to be a father figure.
A happy sigh escaped the prince's lips, as he leaned back in his chair, content to let his friends drink, wench, and feast themselves for today and into tonight. There was no need to rush, no need to concern oneself over what may happen, when here and now, well, there is just so much more to live for. "My friends, gather round, and enjoy another round of drinks on me, for all who drink in the Hands of Gold are welcome to a refreshment on this fine day. To the King!"
"TO THE KING!!!" The tavern shouted back.
A Prince and the Lord of Laws - Gardens of the Red Keep
Hard seasoned hands gripped the stoneworks of the garden walls, his eyes scanning across Blackwater bay for something that he was not seeing. His leather attire bore the passage of hard work and use, yet retained an air of elegance and regal defining. The cool breeze slowly made its way up to where he and three others were currently occupied, food and refreshment sitting upon the oaken table the others gathered around. Central on the table, lay an old worn map, beautifully illuminated upon leather. Turning away from the bay, Prince Maelor strode back to his seat, standing above it as his eyes studied the map intently, its markings, both his own, and those of maesters of old, and what they all meant to him. At long last, a beautiful feminine voice broke the silence which had engulfed Prince Maelor's world.
"My love, my darling dragon, sit down and breathe. This is not Dragonstone, this is not a problem that looming over as Balerion did can solve. You need to eat, refresh your mind and body. All you've done is add more wear to the bottom of your boots, and fret over that which you can't control. We are here for our dear Princess Maegelle's wedding. Let us enjoy that first and foremost. Cousin Aerys and his untimely delay are of concern, but you must eat first, then we may speak of other things." She smiled ever so sweetly at her husband, gripping his hand tightly, before guiding him into his chair, putting before him a plate of spiced boar and potatoes. Lastly, she poured him a tall mug of Dornish Red, mulled in spices to add flavor. "There, my love, enjoy your food as I speak with our dear brother and friend. A moment of rest will do you good, and allow your mind to think more properly." She planted an alluring kiss upon Prince Maelor's lips, before turning to face the other two men at the table.
Princess Vaella smiled at the other two men, taking a small sip of her lemon flavored water, before conversing with them. "Lord Coldwater, we certainly appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule in order to attend our lunch, and speak with us on such close terms and matters regarding what we all are curious about. You are accounted as a most loyal and faithful retainer of the King, and we must all serve loyal to our ruler." She smiled again, this time more mischievously, before speaking again. "But of course, you were not taking time to come here and hear the endless prattle of courtly indulgence. No, we are all here, because something is wrong, something does not add up." She turned at looked at the other man sitting down, garbed in his fine whites and raiment of office, a member of the Kingsguard.
"Ser Viserys, brother and knight, you suspect it as well, don't you. We are here because just as all of you have surmised, the king is still... late." She spoke the last word with a refined sense of intensity. "Ser Viserys, you saw the king off, as did Lord Coldwater, and both of you have pointed out one enduring fact that may speak of some blindness in our ruler. He left behind the Lord Commander, purposely, as we all know that the old man and the Crown Prince did not get along... not that I blame Lord Commander Guyard Lonmouth, Prince Maekar was a... trying lad to be around." She placed her glass down, turning to her Lord and husband.
"Lord Coldwater, you and I are men of the sea, we've both done our fair share of sailing, plying the waves of the Narrow Sea. This is not in Aery's character to not have written to us of his travels, his whereabouts. The voyage from Braavos should have taken at best, fifteen days, give or take two. At worst, with storms perhaps twenty... maybe twenty-five. Its going on thirty-five now, with nothing from Eastwatch-by-the-Sea. I have only heard word of a few short summer squalls, of which only one may have given them any trouble. Did the King tell you why he had to leave in such short order... though, I doubt it matters now, as he is very much so beyond what one would consider late." He ate his food slowly, methodically ensuring none would fall onto him or smear upon his face. He placed the fork and knife down, before looking at his brother.
"Ser Viserys, blood of my blood, knight and sworn protector of the King... blood of the King, what say you? And nothing fanciful neither. I've heard the droll rumors of this being Corlys work, the work of the Others, some rogue dragon rider from New Valyria... what, if anything did you hear from our King. All anyone knows is that he had left with all due haste for across the Narrow Sea, and one arriving, that destination was Braavos. What would pull him away from home like this, especially so close to his niece's wedding?" Maelor looked at the map again, pointing out what everyone had known for some time.
"New Valyria had expanded ever since the conquest of Slaver's Bay. She took Meereen as her capital, then Yunkai, and then Astapor, butchering the slavers and their families. Later, she conquered Tolos, Elyria, and New Ghis, cutting down all who stood in her way. With so many lambs in her flock, she colonized Bhorash, and wrestled control of the entire region solely for herself and her dragonspawn. The Dothraki fear her, the Qarthian pay tribute to her to keep her from burning them again, all the people of Hesh, Kosrak, and Lhazosh do her fealty as their Queen. They've grown unchallenged by means of their dragons, save only for the fact that their enemies now only fight at sea, using storms and winter weather to their advantages. However, they've never flown further West than Volantis... and yet..." Maelor stopped, letting a servant refill the party's beverages, and waited till the servants had all backed away once again.
"Two dragon riders spotted over Lys, making north by northwest. Flying high, as though they were searching for something." Lord Coldwater spoke this time, knowing what Prince Maelor was referring to. He too had heard the rumors that had made their way up from the docks of Kingslanding, all those weeks ago. Even more so, he had reason to believe that the Prince knew more than the rumor mongers did. "Tell me, Prince Maelor, what makes you bring all this up... what do you know that even the Lord of Whispers may not know?"
"I know only what makes sense... Lord Coldwater, that the Dragons of the East are looking for something or someone. The king, the prince, no. Something else, more valuable that any one king, prince, lord, or triarch could ever hope to posses. Whatever it may be, it has riled them enough to send their prized war beasts flying far and wide. The pirates and traders of the East muse many things, but what I can say with certainty, is that the Emperor of New Valyria burned an entire island to ashes and cinders... not for mere defiance, no, because they played a role of some sort. Rebellion perhaps, but this..." Prince Maelor pointed to the map, "This is the reason why our King went to Braavos. The Braavosi are shrewd business dealers, and better bankers. They invited the King, they asked for him to come. We need the King to return to find out why." Prince Maelor finished, sitting back in his chair as he drank his wine. His face lost in introspection, he frowned and looked back out to sea.
"Lord Coldwater, Prince Viserys... I believe it is best that we keep what has been said here a secret. Furthermore, we must speak with the Lord Hand. He must prepare for the worst... should our King still be missing. Word has been sent to Eastwatch, has it not, to send out vessels to search for our King. Why haven't we heard anything from them yet?" Princess Vaella looked at the knight and small council member. "Surely the Night's Watch has..."
"They have Princess, and they say that they can not search right now due to storms bracketing the region. Maester Gorman says that they should be able to search again within a week. That letter arrived four days ago. The Watch hasn't forgotten what your family has done for it, and they will do all they can to find the king..." Lord Coldwater answered quickly, though a sense of nervous tension colored his voice. He looked to Prince Viserys, nodding his head. "Prince Viserys was there when we received the raven. We all know the point in which the King made to visit the Night's Watch at least once a year to give thanks to all those who died... so long ago."
Sighing, Prince Maelor stood up, looking at those seated at the table with a resigned look. "Lord Coldwater, pass along my invitation to Lord Florian Tyrell. I believe it is best we speak with him with all due haste. I fear something is amiss in our king's absence, and there are those who would seek to capitalize upon a... vacancy upon the Iron Throne." Prince Maelor shook Lord Coldwater's hand politely, before walking with him away from the table, leaving Princess Vaella and Prince Viserys.
As the two men walked out of sight, the Princess beckoned the kingsguard knight over, both now standing at the balcony overlooking the bay. "Sister... " Viserys started to say, before he was silence by a hug and a gentle kiss upon his cheek.
"Viserys... Maelor may seem hard to understand at times, but he does not like the wind coming off from the sea. He says something ill is brewing in the waters, something that seeks to upend the peace we find ourselves living in. Call it a sailors intuition. Whatever it is, brother, protect Daemon. There will be those who seek to manipulate the child, others seeking to kill him. You mustn't let any harm come to that innocent child." Her voice was cold and distant, as she looked at the bay, taking note of Prince Corlys personal ship, along with many other banners proudly flying in the bay.