"Renly, I know that you do not even want to think about it, but the lords are getting restless. We have been married for months, but there is still no sign of an heir. I know that his may take some more time, but unless we start to try, the lords will begin to ask questions." Margaery Tyrell cautioned her husband, as they sat together in their room.
"They won't bother us with this. My bannermen love me, they wouldn't dare to push such a ridiculous issue. We have only been married for a few months. Some lords needed years to produce an heir." Renly replied confidently.
"Not all of them love you. Do not forget that some have already renounced their allegiance to you and joined your brother in his war." Margaery told him once more.
Of course Renly knew this. But it did not worry him overly much. The only Storm Lords who had abandoned him, were those, whose lands shared a common border with the Crownlands. Fear forced their hands, Renly was sure of that. He knew about his brother's temper. It was especially volatile at the moment.
"Still, an heir would secure your rule of the Stormlands. Despite everything, you still have two older brothers who can claim your lordship." He knew his wife was right, but that did not mean that he to like it. The entire topic was quite bothersome for him. "Or is there another reason for your refusal? I know that I am not the rose you want, but we need to do this."
"I know. But I can't. Not now..." Renly admitted.
"Am I that repulsive to you? Maybe if Loras joins us, then..."
"Enough. I won't hear any more of this." Renly said with a firm voice. He really did not like to talk about this. The topic made him feel quite uncomfortable, much more than he was actually willing to admit. He knew that he needed an heir, but that did not mean that he had to like it. Maybe he should just adopt one of Robert's bastards and be done with it. Gods know that there are more than just a few bastards running around, some even of noble blood on both sides.
But this was not the time to think about such things. He left his chambers, to take a long walk around his castle. It wasn't to avoid Margaery and the imploring looks she gave him. No, he just wanted to get some fresh air. At least that was what he tried to convince himself of. But truth be told, he felt a bit like a coward in his situation. Just like he knew that some of his oh so loyal lords considered him a coward, for not joining the king's war. The Storm Lords loved to quarrel. Among each other, but even more against their favorite enemies. Warring against Dorne in the south and the Reach in the West had become almost a tradition for some noble houses. The struggle for the Dornish Marches was older than the Seven Kingdoms.
"Renly! There you are. I've been searching for you!" He turned around and saw Loras approaching. The youngest son of Mace Tyrell was always a welcome sight to the Lord of Storm's End, but at the moment there was an urgency on his face, that worried Renly greatly. "You have a guest."
"A guest?" Who could it be? He certainly did not expect anyone to come at the moment. He just hoped that this guest would not bring any more trouble to his castle.
"Your brother has come..." Loras said carefully.
Renly couldn't mask his shock. "Robert is here? Shouldn't he be with his army? Or has he brought his sword swinging friends with him?"
"Not Robert. Stannis. But he has brought an army as well. They are erecting a camp outside of the walls."
This was actually worse than he had feared. He could deal with his drunk of a brother. But Stannis... his older brother had been cold and withdrawn, ever since Robert had decided to give him Dragonstone and not Storm's End, like Stannis had expected. It was hard to find out what the second oldest Baratheon was actually thinking and planning. Give Robert a lot of wine and all the whores of the local whorehouse for the night and the king was content and wouldn't bother him, but Stannis...
"He is waiting for you in the great hall. And he is quite impatient as well..."
Renly sighed. There was no escaping this confrontation. He just hoped that this would be a social call and not what he expected, an ultimatum to join Robert's war against the Targaryens. He really did not want to fight in this war. He saw no sense in fighting against a girl, whose only apparent crime was to be born to the wrong father. Fighting and dieing because of Robert's obsession was just not worth it. But of course Stannis would think differently, being the dutiful brother and all that. Frankly spoken, it made Renly sick just thinking about it. Stannis always did what Robert wanted and accepted it, even when Robert treated them both like lepers, even though they were his own flesh and blood.
But he pushed all those thoughts and feelings away, as he reached the Great Hall and saw his brother. Stannis was scowling, not that Renly had expected to see a different expression.
"It is about time that you show up," Stannis said, without even turning around to face his brother. Instead he looked at a tapestry on the wall, which showed part's of the castle's history. Elenei and how she protected the newly erected castle from the storms, that had ravaged all the other castle's that had stood here before.
"Brother, what gives me this... unexpected pleasure?" Renly asked, cautious to sound friendly, even though his thoughts of his brother were less than friendly at the moment.
"Do you really have to ask or are just playing dumb on principle?" Stannis asked critically. "Do you have no shame at all, Renly?"
"What are you talking about?"
"I am talking about your conduct in the ancient hall's of our family. I am talking about how you bring shame upon our father's house, by cavorting with traitors. And don't get me started about the less savory things I've been told about you and that Tyrell boy."
"I am hosting whoever I want, whenever I want, brother. This is my castle now and you are a guest in my lands. Do not forget that. To me the Tyrells are no traitors. I am neutral in this war and as such, I treat people how they deserve to be treated and not how Robert thinks things should be treated like." Renly spat.
Stannis finally looked him in the eyes, his gaze filled with cold determination and reproach. "Have you really no shame at all? To betray your brother, your king in such a situation? He was the one who made you what you are now and this is how you repay him for that?"
"What has Robert ever done for me? He gave me titles and offices, yes, but he was never a brother to me. He never treated any of us like a brother should. He did what he had to, so we would do his bidding. But I am not blind, Stannis. I can see what Robert does and I can see that he is about to destroy the realm." He was about to ruin everything, just for the sake of revenge. And why? Because he couldn't get the girl he deluded himself to be in love with. It was pathetic. Loras and Margaery were right, it was a fool's errand to fight in this war.
"No matter how slighted you feel by Robert, he is still your king and you owe him loyalty."
"The same loyalty Robert has shown King Aerys and Prince Rhaegar?" Renly snapped back.
Stannis was silent for a long moment, before he answered, "You were just a child back then. You don't know what the Mad King was like, else you wouldn't speak his name so carelessly. But the fact remains, you owe Robert loyalty. So end this nonsense and muster your troops. We will need every single soldier to prevail against those who will try to destroy our family."
"I won't. The Storm Lands will stay out of this war. I won't allow Robert's obsession to ravage our home."
"This was not a request, Renly." Stannis threatened. Suddenly a strange woman appeared in the room. A fiery haired woman in flowing red robes. Though Renly couldn't describe it, there was something odd about her and the way she stared at him, as she approached Stannis. He wondered if this was the red priestess, that he had heard about. Rumors had it, that she was preaching a foreign religion from across the sea and that she had begun her work in Dragonstone. But Stannis obviously knew her and trusted her to some degree, else he wouldn't have allowed her to get close enough to whisper something in his ear. "I give you one week to reconsider, Renly. Not a day more. Do not be foolish. At least not this one time. For the sake of the mother who bore us, I don't want to see you die with those traitors."
Then Stannis left, the red woman in tow. Renly was left alone and bewildered. What had this woman told him? He had expected Stannis to be his stubborn self and argue for hours. What are they planning? What was up with this odd ultimatum? Would something happen in one week? And were Robert and Stannis really willing to kill him, their own brother, for the sake of their war? The answer was just as simple as it was sad. Yes. Yes, they would kill him. And some of the more frustrated Storm Lords would be happy to help them... Maybe he should try for an heir... just to appease his remaining lords...