Reviews make me write faster!
We'd been riding for a little over a week by the time Storm's End finally came into view, and what a view it was. It was one thing to read about 12-sided curtain walls 100 ft high, and quite another to ride towards 30 meters of sheer stone slammed into the ground in an impenetrable barrier. The single giant circular drum tower inside the dodecagon shaped walls thrust 300 ft into the air, visible even behind the immense curtain walls.
I remembered that the entire structure was put together without mortar, like Angkor Watt at home, and that it was supposedly built with the aid of Bran the Builder. One of his southern prototypes along with the Hightower before he would go on to build Winterfell and the Wall
I shuddered as I rode through the 20-meter tunnel, formed by the gatehouse and the 40 ft thick walls, and entered the courtyard to see the entire household and garrison arrayed in front of the circular drum tower. Resplendent in black and gold.
I managed to dismount without embarrassing myself.
Loras hadn't been able to start my swordplay lessons on the ride south because we'd had to work so hard on me actually learning how to ride. Renly's memories were more helpful here, riding involved a lot less movement of the body than even the most basic swordplay did after all. Which made the theory of what I needed to do a hell of a lot clearer. But I had still never put it into practice beyond some holiday horse riding lessons when I was eight.
I had had to carefully ignore the looks of pity from the twenty household guards who'd accompanied us south. At least no one was questioning my story of the fitting fever, what other explanation was there for their dashing and masterful liege lord suddenly being less skilled at riding than a preteen? Having him replaced by an interdimensional body snatcher certainly wasn't anywhere on their list, so the fitting fever was the only explanation. Despite the fact no one had actually seen me suffer it.
Dragging my mind back to the present I strode confidently over to the bald, older, man with the weathered face, who was kneeling in the place of honour.
"My lord, Storm's End is yours."
I indicated that my castellan, Ser Cortnay Penrose, should rise, and the rest of the household followed.
"Ser Cortnay," I smiled, thankful that years of customer facing jobs, involvement with local politics, and my own agreeable personality had given me the skills to approximate the natural charm Renly was known for, "it's always good to see you."
I nodded to Maester Jurne before focusing on the black-haired boy of twelve name days standing in the row behind. "Edric! Step forward and let me take a look at you."
Surprise briefly crossed Ser Cortnay's face as his ward, Edric Storm, Robert's only bastard with a highborn mother, stepped forward in front of me. Renly had never paid him much attention before, though he had the excuse of Edric being little more than a toddler the last time Renly was actually in Storm's End for any length of time.
"By the seven, it's like looking at the Robert I remember from childhood! Now I understand what people mean when they say they look at me and see the Robert of the Trident. Are you working with that warhammer my brother sent you boy?"
Edric's face lit up. It seemed my memory of Davos describing him as charming and courteous like Renly, but also fierce and proud like Robert, was certainly true. I remember how much he gushed in letters over the gifts Robert sent him on his nameday, which were actually sent by Varys as Robert had never given a dam about any of his bastards after his first little girl in the Vale. If that was how starved for affection and recognition Edric was, then I should certainly be able to make a much better impression than my eternally absent brother. Who, by all accounts, had never even met the boy.
"Yes, my lord. I've been practicing every day."
"Good lad, that's the Baratheon in you coming out!" I patted him on the shoulder and locked eyes with those of the household that looked most disturbed by my actions as I did it. Something Edric clearly noticed as he stood straighter with pride.
"Well, let's let all of these good people get back to their jobs. Edric, Ser Cortnay, Ser Loras, please attend me in my solar."
Ser Cortnay led the way as we climbed the drum tower in silence, which was good as I definitely didn't remember it.
Edric was still beaming from receiving more attention from his blood in the last 10 minutes than the rest of his life combined. Ser Cortnay was no doubt noting the obvious changes between me and the Renly he remembered and what that might mean for him and the Stormlands. Ser Loras was clearly puzzling over my new fondness for bastards.
Eventually we reached the solar and I took a seat by the window, enjoying the view out over the woods, stony ridges, and lush hillside fields covering the clifftops around Storm's End. I gestured for the others to sit.
"My lord," Ser Cortnay spoke up hesitantly, "it is good to see you so well. When the news you had suffered the fitting fever reached us, well, I feared that you were returning to live out the rest of your days here."
"Ser Cortnay;", I began, thankful to be able to butter him up before issuing strange commands, "given the grace, skill, and responsibility that you have shown in your role as castellan and as Edric's guardian, I can safely say that the thought of you being the one responsible for me if that were to happen gave me great comfort in the times when I wasn't certain I would even walk or speak again. Let alone rule."
The knight looked inordinately pleased at the compliment, which I was grateful for. He had been one of Renly's most loyal supporters, casting verbal fire on the turncloaks who had switched support to Stannis before Renly's body was even cold. He had also refused to yield Storm's End to Stannis as long as he would have to give up Edric Storm. Stannis had been forced to have Melisandre kill him with only the second shadow demon ever used in the War of the Five Kings to get the castle to yield.
That sort of loyalty was worth more than its weight in Valyrian steel.
Edric simply looked on, wide eyed and horrified, as Loras' expression became pinched at the reminder of how much worse my 'recovery' could have been.
"Fortunately, I seem to have escaped the worst of the effects the fitting fever usually produces, but the gods seem fit to have made the ones that I have suffered hit me like Robert's warhammer as payment for that blessing. It seems that there have been several notable changes to my personality, which Ser Loras will have to attest to as I don't feel any different. But my memory has been hit the hardest. I will need you, Ser Cortnay, to run me through everything about the Stormlands, from the largest keeps to the smallest farm holds, to see what is missing, what can be recovered, and what I will just have to re-learn."
Ser Cortnay sat straighter as the weight of responsibility, and trust, I was placing in him became clear. "I will not let you down my lord."
"Now as for you, young nephew," Edric beamed as I turned to face him, "how do you feel about having some company in your warhammer lessons?"
"My lord?!" "Renly?!"
Ser Cortnay's and Ser Loras' objections arrived at the same time. So I held up my hand to silence them and allow me to deal with each one in turn.
"Ser Cortnay, you undoubtedly noticed my difficulty riding when I entered the courtyard. I have a lot to relearn in matters of horsemanship, so please understand that when I tell you my swordsmanship skills are gone, I am not exaggerating. I doubt I could defeat a peasant levy at the moment, and if I am to train at such a basic level again, I would like some company as moral support. Which unless I am mistaken, Edric would be happy to give his dear old Uncle?"
"Absolutely Uncle! I mean my lord." Edric gushed before correcting himself with embarrassment.
"From now on you can refer to me as Uncle, Edric." I smiled warmly, noting the brief smile on Ser Cortnay's face, along with the lighthouse worthy smile Edric was sending me. Clearly my suspicion that Ser Cortnay's suicidal defence of Edric had meant that his feelings had gone beyond strong affection for a ward – such as Eddard Stark had for Theon – and had reached the level of true parental love, was right on the money.
My plan to build strong bonds of loyalty with Edric was already off to a flying start and given Ser Cortnay's love for the boy it was tightening already strong bonds of loyalty with him as well. That I was improving a little boy's life at the same time was just the icing on the cake; if only all my decisions would have such uncomplicatedly positive effects.
"Ser Loras," I said warmly turning to face him, "doubtless you're surprised to hear I will be joining Edric's lessons and learning to wield a warhammer."
"You've never shown any inclination for it before." Loras muttered darkly, this change no doubt piling up with the love of books and eagerness to learn. Making it more clear to him by the day that his lover had changed drastically.
"Indeed, and in an ideal world I'd relearn the sword. But….."
I hesitated, making it clear that I was about to reveal a great weakness to them, and hopefully reinforce their trust of me as a result. Even as I dealt blow after blow to the Renly they had previously known.
"The fitting fever didn't leave me unable to focus or plan as it does many people, but it has slowed my reactions. I doubt I can anticipate and respond to the speed of strikes defending with a sword requires, no matter how hard I train; not anymore."
All three of them looked saddened so I quickly pushed on.
"I do, however, have the strength to wield a warhammer if I start training properly with one. Most importantly, the movements for it are much slower than a sword and force your enemy to react to you, rather than letting them dictate to you as its strikes are supremely difficult to stop or turn aside. It's the perfect weapon to cover the damage the fever has left me with."
In actual fact, the lack of anticipation and reaction speed was all me. Having fenced while at university I knew very well that the faster and greater number of movements my opponent could potentially make, the more fucked I was. It was why I'd found some success with the saber, and near total failure with the foil. The saber's movements were more restricted than the foil, so I could deal with an opponent wielding it better, and the restricted movements a warhammer imposed on its wielders opponents were just that difference taken to the next level. Hopefully it would be enough to keep me alive on the battlefields to come.
Left unsaid by me was that it was also great politics. People already saw a young Robert Baratheon when they looked at Renly's body. If they saw me fighting with a warhammer, the memories of Robert's successful rebellion would be at the forefront of people's minds when they spoke to me. Something that would come in very handy as I was 4th or 2nd in line for the throne depending on how you counted, and I needed to keep all my options open.
"That's true." Loras choked out, his pain at even more 'damage' to his paramour as clear as day. "But Renly, the warhammer isn't suited to close spaces, you'll be defenceless if you have to fight in a castle's halls and stairwells."
"That's why I'm relying on you to teach me and Edric how to fight with a morningstar. I know it's still not ideal to fight with in close spaces, but it's a damn site better than a warhammer and you're very skilled with it too. You can put up with double the lessons for a while can't you Edric? If it means learning to fight from the best knight in the realm?"
Edric said nothing, he was just staring at Ser Loras with utter awe on his face at the suggestion of learning from him.
"I think we can take that as a yes." I jested, earning a snort from Ser Cortnay and a weak smile from Ser Loras. "Now, I'm ashamed to admit it, but riding for so long has exhausted me. Ser Cortnay, please arrange for me to join Edric's lessons, starting tomorrow. Ser Loras, please inform Ser Cortnay when you would wish to train us as well, so that he can work it into the schedule. Ser Cortnay, the remaining time is to be divided into fourths, three of them are to be spent with you, ruling and re-learning what I need to know about the Stormlands. The other fourth is to be spent with Maester Jurne, I've been studying several books on law on the way south. Given my position as Master of Laws it would seem like a good idea to actually know the basics of the system I am supposed to administer. Instruct him he is to bring any books from my own library here at Storm's End that he feels would help."
Ser Cortnay and Edric nodded and stood, but Loras shot me such a look of disappointment that I caved. Again.
I was a weak and cruel man for accepting the love that was intended for Renly, but at least I was showing him who I was and not hiding the changes my arrival caused from the 'Renly' he knew.
"Ser Loras, stay behind, you can remind me of the adventures we got into here when you were my squire. Ser Cortnay, please send up some wine and food."
Loras and I talked long passed sunset.
As my third week at Storm's End began, I reflected that things were going reasonably well. My riding had improved, my warhammer lessons meant I now knew how to hit someone with it without endangering myself, and my nephew Edric was going around in a permanent happy daze.
The same couldn't be said for Ser Loras Tyrell and Ser Cortney Penrose.
Ser Loras was finding my 'new' love of books and learning very difficult to process. As a third son who was incredibly skilled at arms, he had never needed to know more than his letters and numbers. As a result, he often found himself unable to sit still while I was reading and ended up storming off to be active. Loras then started resenting how little time we were spending together outside of the very public practice yard and sullenly returned to my solar after our training the next day. Only to start the whole cycle over again. He also seemed to resent my new dedication to Renly's lordly duties.
I suspected that a large part of his difficulty in adapting to the new Renly was his fear that if I was taking my lordly duties so much more seriously, I might take all of my duties mores seriously. Including finding a wife. Which something I knew I had to do eventually, but, true to form, at the moment I was ignoring that requirement and hoping it would go away.
Throughout it all I refused to hide the changes my arrival had caused. I would not pretend to be Loras' old lover, no matter how much I was falling for the beautifully deadly knight. If he wanted to continue to be with Renly, then it would have to be because he wanted me, not just because I was wearing Renly's face.
To that end I was constantly moving the conversation away from Loras and Renly's the past adventures to our present activities and some of my least incriminating plans for the future. The horrible guilt that filled me when the Tyrell knight started regularly appearing with eyes red rimmed from crying in the privacy of his chambers was difficult to live with. But his old Renly was gone and not coming back. I had to make Loras except that. Unfortunately that meant crushing his hope that things would eventually go back to the way they were.
Ser Cortnay on the other hand, was loving my new dedication to my duties. But he had looked at me as if I had a second head when I ordered him to send out riders to my vassals bearing messages that heralded the first major change I was going to try and make. Then he nearly had a heart attack as I ordered Storm's End's garrison increased to its wartime strength of five hundred men-at-arms. As the results began to trickle back to Storm's End, I got the impression that he was only going to find my orders stranger as time went on.
Right now he was simply settling for mild confusion as the people needed for my latest minor attempts to stack the deck in my favour had arrived. He moved to the door leading to the antechamber of Storm's End's great hall, known as the Round Hall due to its pace at the centre of the Drum Tower.
I took my place on the high seat on the dais at the seaward end of the hall. Draped in black furs, the wood treated to give a golden effect, and with antlers from an emperor stag attached to its crest, it certainly was impressive chair. The giant black and gold Baratheon stag banner behind it completed the intimidating effect.
At my nod, Ser Cortnay ordered the door wardens to allow entry and announced my first set of guests.
Ser Guyard Morrigen and Lord Bryce Caron entered and bent the knee before me. I indicated that they should rise and walked down to embrace them.
"Welcome both. I have a very delicate task that needs men of skill that I trust, and I could think of no others in the Stormlands that are more suited."
Both men preened a little.
Eventually, after having Ser Cortnay throw names at me until something triggered, I had remembered that these two were the two stormlander members of Renly's Rainbow Guard. Which meant that they were both loyal to Renly and very skilled with a blade, something Ser Cortnay confirmed.
I, of course, knew that they had turned their cloaks and supported Stannis, which made me wary of them. But then that was true of pretty much all of the Stormlands, so I had to ignore it. Unless I remembered someone being particularly cowardly or eager to switch sides. In this case it was actually useful, as it showed that they both had a certain, practicality, that someone who was unquestioningly loyal, like Brienne, lacked.
That practicality meant that they would likely have only small qualms about completing the task I had in mind.
"This is like to be a long task, taking more than a year, and dangerous. If you feel that you can't be away from your lands for that long, Lord Caron, then I'm sure that Ser Morrigen could suggest others to take your place."
"My steward is more than capable of ruling in my absence my lord." Bryce contested. "If you have any specific concerns, he will serve you as faithfully as I would."
Unmarried, despite only having a bastard half-brother as heir, Lord Caron clearly didn't take his responsibilities as Lord seriously. Or it could be the generous coin I was offering as an added incentive. Regardless, that wasn't my problem. Yet.
"Where are you sending us that the task will take so long to complete my lord?" Ser Morrigen asked the perceptive question.
It took me some time to get my two bannermen to accept the specific nature of their task. Worse still was the back and forth over the men and equipment they were likely to need and where they could get it. In the end I had ended up relying on Loras' House Hightower blood and Oldtown connections far more than I had wanted. It felt far too much like taking advantage of the grieving Tyrell. But given what they needed and how quickly they needed it, there was no other option.
In short, by the time we were done and I had bid them farewell, I needed several moments alone to recharge. So I decided to have lunch in my solar alone.
Over some hearty bread, strong goats cheese, cold mutton, and succulent apples – all staples of the wet and mountainous Stormlands – I reflected that it was lucky I'd been able to meet Lord Caron and Ser Morrigen in Storm's End rather than Kings Landing.
The task I had given them was a very large gamble, I already gave it a 60/40 chance of failure as it was. If Varys and Littlefinger came to know of it before my chosen agents could set off, then the already low chance of success would plummet still further. So, starting it here, where their information networks were likely to be sparser than usual because of how little time Renly actually spent in the Stormlands, seemed like the best course of action.
When lunch was done, I requested that word be sent to Ser Cortnay to ask my second set of guests to join me.
It had become clear very quickly that Loras' former squire and I couldn't stand each other. I was sure that the boy had had a crush on Loras and resented me taking him away from him, leading to his sullenness. But regardless of what the truth was, his sullen resentment brought out a very short temper in me that made me truly unpleasant company when he was around.
Loras had knighted him for some service he managed to invent and had packed him off back to the Reach by our second week here. Saying his grandmother couldn't possibly come up with more unpleasant consequences than having to deal with me when the boy was around.
This meant I was still in need of a squire. But after wasting time being annoyed, I'd realised this was actually a huge opportunity to bring over some major players to my side. If I played my cards right.
The problem was that the candidate I had in mind to help me do that was already squiring for someone, someone that they had a close connection to. So, I was going to have to do some fancy footwork to get them.
"My lord." The dashing young Beric Dondarrion, Lord of Blackhaven, greeted me, bowing as he entered.
"Lord Dondarrion." I returned neutrally, gesturing that he should sit. He did so as his small squire moved to stand against the wall behind him.
"House Brownhill, House Carron, House Errol, House Dondarrion. Can you tell me what you all have in common Beric?" I asked the lightning lord.
He had to think for a moment, but the answer soon came to him and he shifted uncomfortably. "None of us have trueborn heirs my lord."
"Correct!" I exclaimed, smiling brightly, "and only House Carron has a bastard I can legitimise if the worst happens. Which is the sole reason why I allowed Lord Carron to go galivanting."
"You sent him gallivanting my lord."
I waved the comment away. "The point is Beric, that I have four powerful keeps in the Stormlands that have no heirs if the current lords die. Four. As Lord Paramount of the Stormlands that is something that I cannot let stand. If any conflict or sickness falls on us, then the upheaval from losing so many houses at once will be immense."
Beric looked very unimpressed.
"There are thirty four notable Stormlands houses sworn to House Baratheon my lord. Is losing four of them such a risk? I note that you have excluded House Trant, despite their only heir being Ser Meryn who is serving in the Kingsguard and thus unable to inherit."
I realised what he was doing of course. Lord Dondarrion was attempting to assert his independence, which as he was one of my most powerful bannermen wasn't surprising. I still gripped my goblet hard at the mention of House Trant.
As soon as I learned that that vile craven paedophile Kingsguard was technically one of my bannermen, I had decided that House Trant had to go. There was only Meryn and the father that had enabled him left of House Trant, so I could imitate Arya Stark and send it to extinction with no pesky moral objections from my conscience.
That it would be useful to have the Trant keep of Gallowsgrey to give to someone was just a pleasant bonus.
"All of those lords have landed knights sworn to them Beric, and I do not need the hundred tiny wars that will break out if four of my vassal lords houses die out. And they will break out because all of their vassal lordlings and landed knights will start fighting over who should replace them, and words easily escalate to swords here in the Stormlands as well you know. Now, you are one of my most powerful bannermen, and your keep of Blackhaven is one of my most strategically placed. So I have decided to start with you."
It was all total bullshit. The truth was I just needed Beric Dondarrion gone for as much time as I could get away with before things really kicked off. The lack of heirs was merely the leverage I had picked after Ser Cortnay criticised those houses for it.
He had undoubtedly meant it as a suggestion to pick a wife myself without actually criticising me; but instead of doing what he intended, he'd instead solved my problem of finding a stick I could beat Beric with.
"I am pledged already my lord." The Lightning Lord spoke carefully. Attempting to make it clear that he would not be breaking that engagement while not outright challenging my authority over him. He didn't want to make me angry if it wasn't necessary, which raised my opinion of him somewhat.
"Indeed you are Lord Dondarrion," I replied warmly, "and to an excellent woman by all accounts. I think we just need to speed things along a bit, don't you?"
"My lord?" Beric asked, puzzled. Obviously this was not what he had expected when I had started talking about heirs.
"You've been pledged long enough." I explained firmly. "Quite frankly I've no idea how you've gotten away with it given that I've known betrothals that are shorter! With how forceful dornish women are I keep expecting to be told that you've been dragged out of Kings Landing in the night because she's finally lost patience with you!"
Beric tried, and failed, to hide a smile at the jest, so I forged ahead. "It looks like we have a blessed moment of peace currently. The King is in Winterfell and will take months to return given the snail's pace that the court travels at. I suggest you send a raven asking Allyria Dayne if she consents to marry you two months hence and set out for Starfall when she answers yes. You'll have a plenty of time till your wedding day at Blackhaven. Which should make for a very easy journey, give your household plenty of time to prepare, and give your guests plenty of time to arrive."
I sat back and waited until Beric nodded, conceding the point.
"After the wedding, you'd have months to enjoy the new Lady Dondarrion's company and try to produce an heir. I'm sure Robert will want a tourney to celebrate Ned Stark becoming Hand when he returns from Winterfell, which would seem to be an excellent marker to use as for when you should return to the Capital. You could even bring Allyria with you when you return, so you could and try to crown your wife the Queen of Love and Beauty. Or maybe you just won't be able to drag yourself a way for quite a while, I'm told dornish women can be very persuasive."
Beric looked like he was warring between anger that I was inserting myself so deeply into his affairs, and honour that his liege lord was taking such an interest in him. He was younger than Renly and was as vulnerable to flattery as any prideful young man was when newly promoted and convinced of his own importance. So I decided to try and push him towards that reaction rather than anger.
"I must say I'm looking forward to attending. I'm having a damnable time thinking of what to get you as a wedding gift though."
That did it. Beric's smile sign of my victory. The knowledge that his Lord Paramount, who had skipped several notable stormlander's weddings, would be attending his, publicly marking him as one of my most powerful and trusted vassals, had worked exactly as intended.
"Of course, my lord. It will be our honour to host you." Lord Dondarrion replied before rising to leave, assuming our meeting to be over. But I gestured for him to remain a moment.
"One last thing Beric. I was hoping that you could help me. You see I find myself in need of a squire again given that I'm now having to re-learn my swordplay, and I'm sure you know from dealing with your own bannermen how long it can take to select a new one. Who's the right age, who's a good fit, which lords deserve a reward, which lords will be insulted if you chose each candidate, and so on and so forth."
"You'd like to borrow mine while you search?" Beric asked sharply, no doubt reflecting on the suspicious convenience of his sudden lack of need of a squire.
A reasonable suspicion, given that I'd literally created it 10 minutes ago.
But looking beyond the surface, it was completely ridiculous to think that I had gone to all this trouble to borrow a squire for four to eight months, depending on when Beric decided to end his honeymoon and return to Kings Landing. Ridiculous that is, unless you knew that in under six months time it was very likely someone was going to light the torch that would send the entire Seven Kingdoms up in flames.
Or at least that was my best guess. The books and show timelines were vastly different. The books crammed everything, including apparently the Winds of Winter, into four years, which was reasonably realistic. Especially for the War of the Five Kings as the armies of the various factions were able to campaign year-round without the normal changing of the seasons forcing a stop for half the year.
The problem was that the point of view chapters weren't in exact chronological order as some of them overlapped. Nor was there any clear indication of the passage of time or marking of the years apart from when things like letters arrived. So I was guessing how much time passed between each event and how things all fitted together.
The show was of no help as it stretched everything out into eight years. Having Tywin Lannister and Robb Stark apparently spend two and a half years dancing around each other in the Riverlands, despite only clashing four times as a result. Stannis apparently spent over two years just sitting on Dragonstone doing nothing after his defeat on the blackwater. Jamie apparently took over a year to make it back to Kings Landing after being freed by Catelyn at Riverrun, when it was normally a five-week journey on foot at worst, and then the worst of them all. Arya apparently spent over two years wandering the Riverlands, unable to ever reach Robb's army or Riverrun despite Riverrun never moving and Robb sitting in place for months at a time. I was eminently glad I didn't have to deal with the canonical mess the natural aging of child actors imposed on the world.
But rather than focusing on my worry of knowing what might happen, but not when it might happen, I returned my focus to Beric.
"I doubt you'll be doing much fighting while you're getting married and then enjoying time with your new bride." I shrugged, sure to appear nonchalant. "But only if it's not too much trouble, I have several other options."
"Ned." Beric commanded after a moment, motioning his squire forward to join us at the table. The smallish boy who only had his fourteenth nameday last week approached shyly, his pale ash blond hair contrasting with his deep blue, almost purple, eyes.
Normally a squire's opinion wouldn't have even been asked, but Edric 'Ned' Dayne was no normal squire. The tragedies that had battered his family meant that even at fourteen, he was already Lord of Starfall and head of House Dayne. One of the most powerful houses of Dorne and the only one that could match House Martell's prestige. It was one of the reasons why he had started squiring at ten; he was already a Lord and he had precious little time to waste.
"My Lord Dondarrion, my Lord Renly." The young Lord Dayne answered with perfect politeness. "I would find it a great honour to squire for you Lord Renly, but only if Lord Dondarrion does not have need of me. I swore an oath to him and owe him my service unless he releases me from it temporarily."
"Always the very model of politeness this one my lord." Beric grinned. "Of course, you're released from your oath to me until I return to Kings Landing Ned. But I expect to see you at my wedding to your aunt!"
"I would not miss it my lord." Edric Dayne gave a genuine smile. "I had thought that as Lord Renly was attending, we would travel there together. Though I hope you understand my lord, that while I would be your squire on the journey there and back, while we are at my aunts wedding, I must be Lord Dayne, not a squire. I apologise but duty demands it."
Edric's good nature was as genuine as his politeness, he was perfect for my plans. "Of course, Lord Dayne. I would expect nothing less."
"Well then my lord. I will take my leave; it seems I have a raven to write." Beric's face was glowing as he left my solar, Edric Dayne in tow.
I sat back and enjoyed the afternoon sun. That conversation had gone as well as I had hoped for. Now if only the rest of the plan would go as smoothly.
Fanfic Recommendation: Of Steel and Chakra by Ian Hycrest – A fun, detailed, and well written fic exploring what would happen if Tenten from Naruto became stranded in the North with no way home. Her interactions with the Starks are great fun for me to read about, and I haven't seen a single episode of Naruto.