The grounds stirred with incoming guests as they made their way through to the inner courtyard of Storm’s End. A plethora of multi-colored lanterns adorned walls and the tables near the opened entrance, dispersing the darkness of the night. A rising laughter could be heard from various groups of ladies as they chattered near the feasting tables while pleasant music echoed through the courtyard. The night had been clear and the air just warm enough to make it a nearly perfect evening. With Stannis Baratheon being the new occupant of the castle, a soiree had to be hosted in his honor. Most who knew Stannis were certain that this had to be the work of one of his advisers, but no one complained when invites went out for the masked ball. Anyone of any kind of status in the Stormlands was invited to attend and by the looks of it it seemed that most had accepted. The lords and ladies of the Stormlands strolling through the courtyard, quipping pleasantries at one another while hiding behind their lavish masks and costumes.
It hadn’t been too long since he had arrived in the Stormlands and already Aegon had had just the right connections to get him places. Word of the ball had reached him in Griffin’s Roost and curiosity had gotten the best of him. Despite Lord Connington insisting on him to keep a low profile and ramining in Griffin’s Roost until they were ready to take Storm’s End, Aegon had been too intrigued by the opportunity of mingling with the lords and ladies whose lands he would soon take. After assuring Connington that he would be careful and even inviting him to come along as a guard, he had gotten his wish.
Masked with a red and black dragon mask and a vibrant velvet outfit to match, he had found himself entering the courtyard of Storm’s End with a slight feeling of exhilaration. It thrilled him to be surrounded by nobility that hadn’t the slightest idea who he was. Even if he told anyone that he was a Targaryen, it was unlikely that they would believe him. After all, the last Targaryen was Daenerys who was still far away in Essos to their knowledge.
“It’s rather exhilarating, isn’t it?” he said as he smiled at Lord Connington. The man grunted in a response, not seeming nearly as excited to be there. Aegon chuckled. “You’re more than welcome to stay by the feasting table, I’ll be alright on my own.” It seemed that Lord Connington didn’t need another invite as he wandered off, looking rather cross at having been dragged to a masked ball. A deep sigh escaped Aegon’s lips as he looked around the bustling courtyard.
Already several couples had begun dancing on the vast marble deck leading into the castle. He slowly began walking through the courtyard, curiously observing the lords, ladies and knights that chattered excitedly around him. More and more of the guests broke off into couples and joined the other dancers. He trailed behind towards the deck, seemingly unseen in the crowd. He soon found himself leaning against one of the stone walls near the wine table. Within moments a servant had brought him a goblet of summer wine and he gladly took it before returning to watching the dancers.
Lyanna didn’t know how she got herself into these things. Dancing and singing for the masked ball at Storm’s End was quite the step up from her usual tavern experiences. She’d even had to spend a pretty penny on her ballgown and mask. The gown was a deep shade of crimson that flowed around her like blood with every step that she took. Her mask that spiraled and glittered around her eyes was a rich looking gold. The color made her eyes shine like jewels.
Throughout the night she’d been running to and fro making sure that everyone looked to be enjoying themselves by either dancing, drinking, or conversation; as was her job. As the girl moved from person to person, she kept a pretty smile on her lips. They were all so blissfully unaware of the people working here to keep them happy. Men who would no sooner glance at a lady with no surname, much less talk to them, were now happily waltzing them around the dance floor, gazing at their masked perfection. She found it all quite sickening really, but she was here for a purpose. If she could finally work up enough money, then Westeros would no longer be her concern.
As Lyanna’s mind worked it way through her plan once more, her eyes caught sight of a man standing against the courtyard wall. He was sipping wine. Clad in a red and black dragon’s costume, the boy sure caught her eye. He was around her age, as many of the lords and ladies attending the ball tonight were, but unlike the rest, he was not making any attempt to socialize. That only is probably what drew Lyanna to him.
“Hello, milord.” She dared a curtsey to the man in red. Her painted lips turned up in a small smile as her eyes took on a questioning gleam. “Why ever are you standing on the side, when a ball such as this was born for dancing?” Smoothly, the girl who hid her lineage so well lifted delicately a hand to offer him. Although is was her job to dance with the men on the sidelines, something about this one in particular had Lyanna wanting to dance with him. She desired to know so much more about him. “And I will not take two left feet as an excuse.”
“Missed it again, because a lot of people have sigils, so there would be enough fords left, they only would have to do their own farming”
“Do you know anything of what you speak, milord? Or are you genuinely that far removed from how the world works?”
Oberyn chuckled. “Only the people with sigils. The man with most sigils in his hand has most power”
“The people with the sigils control nothing if those without were not there.”
As the beautiful young woman spoke Robb could not help but raise an eyebrow. He had noticed that the woman had not elaborated on his question and was answering with no more information than he was giving her. Was she truly a witch who predicted his death or nothing more than a young woman trying to create fear and friction amongst the men?
Taking a deep breath Robb leaned back in his chair and paused for a moment, his deep blue eyes studying the woman. She was very beautiful with a clear face and thick lips. Her eyes were sharp and her hair dark like the night. Her face was clear and skin pure which indicated that she had no sign of disease of illness. Her clothes were simply but more than this Robb could tell little.
“What is your name?” Robb asked, tilting his head slightly to the side as he tried to work out why this beautiful young woman had predicted his death.
Lyanna held her breath whilst the king took his time examining her. His eyes, the color of a warm water current, took in everything about her being. What could he be thinking about her? Did he think her evil, or possessed? She tried to keep as still as possible until the lord in front of her spoke. Her name. Of course, it always seemed to be the first question asked in conversation. The one question Lyanna dreaded more than anything. For when you have no name, people had the tendency to look down upon you.
The name must have been quite the shock to the young king, the same as it had been to his mother. Lyanna was their family name. The name of his would-be aunt. The name that started the rebellion of his father’s closest friend. So much could be found in such a tiny name.
“Lyanna is my name.”
Her deep blue irises looked up, directly into his. No one could say that Lyanna didn’t posses at least a smidgen of her father’s demeanor. She could go from being the lady that brought a smile to weary men’s faces, to a royal daughter in an instant. Her jaw was held high and pointed, daring Robb Stark to make a mockery of her. Her eyes held to his strongly, asking to be tested. A last name, what was it? What was a simple word in a moment like this?
“Here is a lesson child. Most highborns, I am glad I can explude myself here, want nothing but power. They really do not care for the smallfolk. All the smallfolk means to them is tax” he said. “Ofcourse the exeption lies within Dorne.”
“The people are the power, milord.”
“Be honnest, how many lowborn people are there in the songs and books”
“More than any king or queen. When the minstrels sing of the people of the land, who else would they be talking about? When the history books mention the wars fought, what exactly were these great Kings fighting for? The land. It’s people. The people who lack sigils, but make up for it with a true understanding of the world, not this warped reality that all too many highborns have taken to be true.”
Choosing to travel with Arya Stark might have liberated Gendry from Harrenhal, but it also put him in considerably more discomfort than he was used to. He had never lived lavishly like she had, but he sometimes missed the easy meals and warm bed of his old smithy. Yoren had always been good to him, had fitted him with a sword and had kept his belly full, and even in Harrenhal, amongst the grime and torture, his captors realized that if they wanted him working iron he needed to be kept strong. When he’d left, he’d traded those small but regular meals for near-nothing, and a shared bed for sleeping on rocks and in thickets. That is, if he could sleep at all amongst the howling wolves and Arya Stark’s night terrors.
When her moods were better, however, Arya had liked to tell him about her family. Her father she spoke of most often, correcting the many misconceptions that had come with being a plebeian of King’s Landing, but as they had neared Riverrun she’d spoken more and more of her mother and brother. She was not nearly as fond of her mother as her father, but the woman was still painted as a dutiful beauty with a just heart. Her brother was described much more vividly. Of him she spoke of a fierce warrior who inspired both love and terror, who was a true wolf in human skin. She told of his swordsmanship, unmatched in the North, and of his cunning in strategy. Gendry had expected to be in awe of the man, but Robb Stark had not even been a man. He was a boy, one shorter than Gendry himself, with large sorrowful eyes and his mother by his side. His appearance did not undercut his regality, or his kindness. His coffers were all tied up in the warfront, and the boy had no coin to spare for his sister’s companions, but he had promised Gendry as much ale as he could drink and a place to rest amongst his own men. After days of hard travel, the thought of a restful sleep should have excited the blacksmith. But, although it might have just been the adrenaline still pumping through his system, Gendry felt as if he could stay awake for a hundred more nights without tiring.
Lyanna had called it interesting, but the night had been of no great exertion on Gendry’s part. After an attack by the queen’s own men, nights of torture in Harrenhal, and weeks of travel with little sleep or food, being attacked by an easily overpowered beast hadn’t been difficult to deal with. But he could understand her sentiment. She was a woman who normally spent her nights with song and dance, safe and sound amongst a man some called king. The situation must have surely been stressful to her. And perhaps her words, though kind, were meant to subtly bid him goodnight. After all, she was in quite the state. Her shining dress was dulled by mud at the hem, sweat at the neck, and had been ripped for his bandages. She was still a beauty, there was no doubt about that, but her elaborate hairstyle was coming apart and her eyes, like his but prettier, were tired. She would want time to herself, he was sure, and her words did not bother the blacksmith.
“That’s a kindness Robb Stark had already paid me, Lyanna. Though it’d be no trouble on my part to walk you to yours,” he said, and offered the girl his unwounded arm. Though he had no loyalties to the Lannisters, calling Arya’s brother a king felt wrong on his lips. He might have been reprimanded by anyone else in the camp, but he was sure that Lyanna would bear him no ill will. It was strange, how high in regards he held the girl, but she had showed him too much kindness to be treated like a stranger.
With the thoughts still racing in Lyanna’s head, she spared an sweet smile for the chivalrous blacksmith boy. It was all too easy for her to take hold of Gendry’s strong arm when offered. “Thank you,” With the light pulling of his arm, Lyanna managed to subtly lead the boy to her tent. Passing by the soldier, now drunken, stumbling to their tents, Lyanna tensed a tad. Perhaps it was a tad ridiculous for these men to make her so nervous still. Even with a strong lad like Gendry on her arm, a shiver of fear ran up her spine. Men like them had all but murdered her a time too often.
The thoughts of danger still lurking in her mind, Lyanna pushed their speed a tad until they were far from the besotted stare of the soldiers. In fact, she had moved them quickly from the sight, and hopefully listening range, of anyone at camp. She took a spot at the doorway of her tent and let loose the boys arm. “Please don’t think me forward Gendry, but I feel as though there are things that must be discussed betwixt us.” Lyanna rang her hands a bit. She knew no matter how many words she could pull out of her mind, that this would perhaps be one of the most awkward conversations in her life. “Things that should not be said out in the open.” Her eyebrow lifted to very pointedly try and get her point across.
Lyanna opened the flap of her tent and went inside, waiting on what she could only assume was her relation to follow her inside. Now, how was she exactly to go about this? ‘Oh, yes. Do you know who your father was? No? I do.’ Not exactly subtle, which was much more this Baratheon’s style. The slender girl moved quickly around her home space. First, she tied a robe around her in an attempt to make modest the ripped dress she’d been sporting. Next, she lit several candles. Light was an essential for her, particularly if she wanted to read people’s expressions. Finally, she took a seat on her bed, waiting for Gendry to come about, her mind still racing with all the possibilities of how exactly she should reveal her information.
“And so you lack history!”
“How do you wager that, milord?” A small smirk appeared on the pale girl’s face. “I may have a whole history you know nothing about. One little picture does not change who I am.”
“That is a long time ago”
“Perhaps it is long ago, for the people you deem of import, but for me it is an everyday occurrence. It may have gone unnoticed to you, but I lack any sigil.”
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