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The Colour of Always

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Offline Reigning King

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Crack

The wooden sword the young man held in his hands splintered into pieces.  He shrunk away from the wood as it went flying, his thin frame shrinking into itself as a reflex of defense.  When a heartbeat or two had passed and the young man realized what had just occurred, he went from being startled to very angry.  Hurling the remnants of his wooden sword across the yard he shouted curses to the Warrior.  Ripping off his helmet and sending his shining blond hair into disarray, he shouted similar curses at his Uncle – whom had splintered his sword to begin with.  Over the sound of his shouting, another sound could be heard.  It was the throaty laugh of his elder brother that sent him spiralling into a rage.

“What are you laughing at!?” He screamed, directing his frustrations now at the dark man who stood just outside the duelling ring in the yard. 

He stood a near head and a half taller than the spritely blond who raged at him.  His wild, black hair that spun into curls was pulled back from his sweat-sheened face in a series of twisted braids bound by leather straps.  He wore dirty boiled leathers where his brother wore shiny plated gold.  In his hand he held his own wooden sword, though it was still lighter than the Valaryian steel hung at his side – a gift to him from his grandfather.  The blond, much to his continued disappointment, lad no such steel of his own. 

The two brothers looked enough alike in theory.  Both shared similar traits like their high cheekbones and broad mouths, however in all the places it mattered the two boys looked to be strangers.  Where Joffrey was thin and wiry Lyan was muscular and sturdy.  Where the hair of one sparkled gold and sleek, the other’s tangled into a mass of black.  Where the eyes of one glowed like emeralds, the others’ were pools of lazuli blue.  Where one attacked with vicious words and ignorance, the other mediated with a gentle tone and silent submission. 

But who could resist playfully toying with their little brother?

“I thought you said you would go easy on him, uncle.” He called over his brother’s screamed profanities. 

“I did.” The man replied.  His lips, which were speckled by stubble having not yet been shaved this morning, curled over his teeth and pressed together.  He was making a valiant effort to avoid laughing at his nephew but struggled to maintain composure.

“Enough of this, this is kid’s stuff!”

“Joff, you have to practice with wood first to learn the technique.” The dark haired young man said, repeating the words often preached by his uncle Jamie during their tutelage. 

“Oh shut up, Lyan!” He snapped back.  “You only say that because grandfather already gave you a shiny new sword.” He said the words mockingly, as though trying to mask his jealousy.  “Where’s my sword!?” He demanded, turning once more on his uncle. 

Truthfully, if Lyan could, he would let his younger brother have his way.  There had been a few instances, in fact, when he had first been gifted with the sword, when he had allowed his young brother to carry the rare steel.  It made him happy to prance around with it, offering empty threats – making a show of unsheathing the weapon – each time he was crossed even marginally.   He made no real move to cause actual harm to anyone and the whole of the castle it seemed was in on the joke with Lyan.  They would shrink away in mock fear each time Joffrey would reach for the damned thing, letting him feel a little bit of power for a time, even if it was just for show.  However, that farce had come to a swift end after a very long lecture from their grandfather who forbade the whole thing. 

“Lyan is much older than you.” Uncle Jamie said patiently.  His face was also shining with sweat but, unlike his dark-haired nephew, uncle Jamie’s hair was tame enough that it did not require all the twisting, pulling and fastening that Lyan’s did.   “And bigger.” He added.  “You would need a much lighter sword.”

“Then commission one!”

“And who would you duel against?” Jamie retorted, his patience beginning to wane.  “Tommen?”

“Ahem…” the voice came from the outer ring of the yard.  Immediately, the smell of lavender was in the air. 

“Yes, Varys?” uncle Jamie asked over his shoulder. 

“The King is asking for his son’s presence in small council today.” He explained in that smooth, melodic voice that he always used.  Lyan felt the violation in his ears from just hearing it. 

“Finally!”  Joffrey said.  “I was getting tired of putting up with these fools.”

“Not you, Prince Joffrey.  The King asks for his eldest.” Varys supplied Lyan with a smile that was likely meant to comfort, but it made his skin crawl instead.  He would have been far happier to hear that it was Joffrey they were summoning.  He would have enjoyed the company of his uncle far more without his brother there making a fuss every twelve seconds.  But it was a fuss that he was making now at feeling excluded and so, with great haste, Lyan made his exit. 


“You do realize he’s going to kill me, right?” Lyan said to the group of superiors that were addressing him now.   “Of course, I mean you no offense, uncle.” He said, turning his attentions to the man seated to the King’s right.  He wore boiled leathers not unlike those that adorned Lyan’s own body. 

“He is not your uncle!” his mother hissed. 

“Retract your claws woman, the man is more his uncle than either of your brothers.” It was a comment fully intended to enrage her.  For the life of him, Lyan could not fathom why his parents were unable to get along.  Were they not married to one another?  Surely his father must know that to say such a thing would only cause further discord. 

The council sat at a simple table in the same room that housed the Iron Throne upon which his father so righteously sat.  At the head of the table, King Robert – Lyan’s father – sat with a goblet in front of him.  His full belly prevented him from moving his chair very far in and so he elected to sit a ways away from the table with his legs stretched out.  This did nothing to hide the abundance of his stretched flesh but those seated around him kept themselves from pointing this fact out in order to spare his pride.  To his right sat his best friend and adoptive brother, Lord Stark of Winterfell.  After the passing of Lord Arryn, the man who was (for all intents and purposes) his father’s father, Lord Stark was brought to the Red Keep to fill his place as Hand of the King. 

Lyan was close with Lord Stark.  His mother was right in saying that Stark was not truly Lyan’s uncle, but he felt like one nonetheless.  Ironically enough, of all Lyan’s uncles, of which there were many, Ned Stark was likely his favourite.  Of course, this was information that he kept to himself for fear of offending his uncles of blood or sending his mother into another fit of rage.  Why his father was unable in taking similar precautions, he would never understand. 

“Your Grace…” Lord Baelish began in his humble, quiet voice.  “I believe we might be getting a little off track.”

“Yes, right.  So you’ll marry the girl then.” Lyan’s father grunted, continuing his previous train of thought. 

Lyan chewed at the inside of his lip as he looked between his father and mother.  Both were given him pointed looks and once again, he found himself firmly placed in the middle of their fight.  He wondered if there would ever come a time when he would be able to please both parties at once.  Though, that would require them to share an agreement on something, which they never did. 

“But…” He paused to think of how to best phrase his statement.  The last thing he needed was for them to be angry with him instead of each other.  “I thought Sansa’s hand was to go to Joffrey?  Does grandfather not already have a wife chosen for me?” His last question was posed to his mother.  Better to encourage them to sort it out themselves.  Frankly, it didn’t much matter to Lyan who he married.  So long as it was something that both his parents could agree on, he would accept it.   His parents made marriage look practically impossible but he was confident he could be a better husband than his father.  His uncle Tyrion had taught him a thing or two about how to be agreeable with women.  It really wasn’t so hard.  You just had to do what was asked of you and the rest of the time stay out of their way. 

Unfortunately, this concept was utterly lost on his father. 

“He does.” His mother said with a triumphant smile.  Good, she looked pleased with him.  He did like it when his mother was pleased with him, it happened so rarely after all. 

“I won’t have the boy marrying his third cousin, woman!” He barked.  “I’m sick of seeing blond hair everywhere I go.  If a Stark is going to wed any child of mine, it’ll be a true Baratheon son.”

Lyan made himself comfortable where he sat beside Lord Baelish.  This was sure to spark a fight that would last a considerable amount of time. 

“Just what is that meant to mean?” Her tone was positively deadly.

“The girl is crazed about him, isn’t she Ned?” He asked, slapping his friend on the arm.  The Hand of the King looked rather uncomfortable with the whole discussion.  From across the table, Lyan offered him a sympathetic look. 

“It is true, the young Lady is quiet smitten with our Prince.” Varys interjected.  How he got that information, Lyan had no idea.  What he did know was that he disliked the way the Spider called him our Prince.  Lyan disagreed with it.  He belonged to his mother, his father and sometimes house Stark, but he had no loyalty to the lonely house of Varys the Spider. 

“See, we have to think of the girl’s feelings!” The King exclaimed in a voice that suggested he thought he had won. 

“And what of Joffrey’s feelings?” She insisted in return.

“Joffrey doesn’t have feelings.”

“It’s you who has no feelings.”

“I have plenty of feelings, like my feelings that the Starks and the Baratheons should be united under one house as they were meant to be.”

“And what of your latest crop whores that stalk through my home.  What houses do you intend to unite with them?”

There was an awkward silence that followed her comment where members of the council not locked in the gaze of loathing shared between the King and Queen, looked to each other each seeking refuge in the eyes of another.  It was their cue to leave, and Lord Stark wasted no time rising from where he was seated, gesturing for Lyan to follow him.  He did so gladly.  Lord Stark bowed to the King and Queen in silence before leaving the throne room.  Lyan followed after him, bowing to his father and kissing his mother on the top of her head.  He pretended it didn’t hurt him when she flinched away from his touch.  A moment later, Lord Baelish, Varys and Maester Pycelle were vacating the throne room as well.  Once the large wooden doors were shut, the King and Queen, Protectors of the Realm, recommenced their war with one another. 

“She does like you, my Sansa.” Lord Stark said to Lyan as they walked down the corridors.  Lord Stark would be returning to the Hand’s Tower while Lyan was more interested in locating his uncle Jamie.  His mother’s twin seemed to always be the best medicine when she was in a foul mood. 

“Sansa’s wonderful.” He said quickly, making sure that his not-an-actual-but-more-or-less-so uncle was not offended by his devotion to his brother.  “It’s just that Joffrey seems to like me less and less every day.  We used to be great friends when we were children but now it seems he’s decided he hates me.  I just don’t want to give him another reason.”

Lord Stark nodded thoughtfully.  He wasn’t the type of man to behave rashly.  Lyan had hopped he would rub off on his father – though that might take a bit more time.  He just always seemed to know the right thing to say, and this instance was no exception to that rule. 

“Do you think Joffrey would treat my daughter with the same kindness you would?”  He asked thoughtfully. 

“Well… when you put it like that.” Lyan’s face twisted as he chewed on his lip again.  It was always in the same spot where he chewed and Maester Pycelle had scolded him enough times for constantly worrying at the spot.  It had scared now, after many years of the continued habit.  Today, it seemed, was threatening to make the tender flesh break again. 
It wasn’t that Sansa was ugly, or that she was unpleasant.  In fact of all the young women who had attempted to throw themselves at Lyan, Sansa was the most modest and polite.  He had known her for his entire life.  Quite simply, he thought of her as he thought of Arya, as a sister.  To be married to her, to share a bed with her, these were thoughts that Lyan had never had before.  Nor were they thoughts he wanted to have at all. 

“I suppose it’s not your decision, though.” Lord Stark said, placing a hand on his friend’s son’s shoulder. 

“Was all that true, what my mother said about the whores?” He asked suddenly. 

Lord Stark could only sigh.  “You’re old enough now to know the answer to that, my boy.” 

Electing to ignore the truth of the aging man’s words, he focused instead on the large hand that was making one shoulder more predominantly warm than the other.  They walked together in a silence that was of more comfort than all the words his parents had ever spoken to him in his life.  Sometimes, Lyan wondered if there wasn’t merit to his father’s drunken ramblings.  Not stag, not lion.  Lyan often felt like fellow wolf.

King Kade - Reigning from the North


Character limits kill my vibe...


Offline asterin

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It did not take more than two moons before she was taken to the Red Keep. The whore-master of King’s Landing called, and she was all too eager to answer, like many of the prostitutes with her—though her motivations differed from theirs. The cart was hardly a comfortable one, drawn by two bedraggled horses and without much furnishing, but truthfully it was understandable since they were to look relatively inconspicuous. Not that anyone in the know would be fooled into thinking they were anything but a number of whores for the King.  

The women sitting in the cart were all of different shapes and sizes—some plump and curvy, some willowy and slender, some dark haired and some blonde, or even ginger. They all had their stories, their joys and woes, the events that had brought them all into the same cart, but if the young woman sitting in the corner would have voiced her past, it would have certainly had stark differences to the tales of the others.

There was not much for her to say about family or childhood. No mother had held her close in the night; no father had sat her on a knee. The only place she could call home for the first couple years of her life had been the canals of Braavos, the only mother’s lullaby the rushing briny water within. She had been one of the many stray children on the streets, with dirty faces, ragged clothing, and hard eyes. Begging was good enough some days, and some others scavenging. But the best came from stealing, as all of them knew.

Of all the children that milled about the streets, orphaned or neglected, she had been the smallest, but fortunately, the quickest. Brute strength was an asset, but quick fingers pinched more things, and quick feet outran those who would catch them. She had never been deemed the prettiest either, but the particularly pretty ones had disappeared all too often for her to bemoan such a thing.

At near two decades of life she didn't look like the street child she had been—her face was no longer streaked with grime but was soft and smooth, the scrawny legs had given way to shapely ones, and the matted mop of hair she had sported now fell to her waist, black and glossy as a raven’s wing. Despite the change, instead of being a soft, beautiful lady, she was a lithe young woman with the beauty of a wildcat, never tame, never simply sweet—the silky gowns and perfumed hair could not change her insides, she was a child of the canals, raised by death and nurtured with blood. Neither softness nor sweetness had a place in her thorned heart, not when she had been crafted specifically for a single goal. Unlike other girls, she had not been raised to be a mother, lady, or mistress. How different such a life would be!

In her hand was a small knife, weathered and worn. The handle had been rewrapped and bound several times over the years, and the small blade, only as long as her finger, showed signs of repeated use. She toyed with it absently, her fingertips tracing the familiar trinket. It had been with her for the majority of her life, received when she had been six or seven years old—uncertain, for she herself was not very sure of her exact age or nameday.

“Pick to your liking, child,” the withered crone had crooned. She remembered that day more clearly than any other in her childhood. After all, it was the closest thing to a nameday she had.

A typical day of thieving, scavenging, begging—near the port open to foreigners, she had been called by an old woman crouching in a corner. Her skin was wrinkled and folded into itself, as if she had once been much larger in stature but had shrunken to half of her size. Her eyes were hooded and the pupils milky, pale blue and unseeing—and yet she had called to her. In each hand a separate item lay cradled: a hunk of bread and a small knife. Her stomach growled, suddenly becoming aware of how the acid ate away at her hollow gut. She swore she could smell the fragrance of the roll—it was nothing like the rough, stale scraps she managed to scavenge. It would be soft and lie sweet on the tongue. “Go on. Take one.”

She began to scuttle closer to reach for the bread, but suddenly suspicion overcame her, piercing through the overwhelming hunger. She could not trust this cryptic woman and her strange offers. Kindly acts might hide dark intentions. She lashed out and snatched the knife away, tumbling back to a safe distance once more. Immediately she brandished it, as if the woman would morph into some monster and chase her down—but the blind old woman only smiled broadly, revealing her toothless gums before looking skyward and exclaiming in an oddly ringing voice, “Oho! Death comes knocking tonight. And she will answer its call.”


She had fled then, clasping her new weapon to her chest as she ran through the familiar twisting city. But when the moon dappled the dark waters of the canal that night, Death came for her like the old crone had said. And she had answered. From the streets she was plucked like a rough geode, to be smashed and cracked open, cut and ground into deadly radiance. Her purpose was clear—to be a weapon, to follow orders, to bring the kiss of death to whomever she was commanded to. She was a tool, and nothing more.

The training period had started from the very night she had been spirited away by her masters, and lasted a decade. She had been educated thoroughly in the arts of subterfuge and death, in disguise and weaponry. For her swiftness she had been awarded the name ‘Esen,’ meaning ‘wind.’ There were others that had been taught and raised like her, other children growing harder and sharper alongside her day by day. Their fealty was to the fallen House Targaryen, the rightful rulers of the Iron Throne: their purpose was to erase everyone who had corrupted the claim. The monstrous man who had usurped the throne was none other than Robert Baratheon, who whored, drank, and spent impossible expenses for his luxury and entertainment, abusing the power and crown that did not even belong to him. He had to be stopped, in the name of the sole survivors of his slaughter, the last Targaryen dragons. These were absolute truths she had heard every day, from the teachers that shaped her entire view of the world. They had fed her, trained her, and given her worth, given her a name, given her a home. The horrors she had gone through for ten years only looked like love from her distorted viewpoint.

Yes, unlike the other women sitting with her, she was no lady of the night, but an assassin. And yet, she was no stranger to playing a whore—‘Nasira,’ the name was this time. It was easy to addle a man’s wits with a whispered phrase or an ardent touch, and they hardly ever thought about how vulnerable they actually were once the clothes came off. It truly didn’t take much to kill a man, and oh, she would know. As deadly as she could be without resorting to using her body, she was simply a weapon and her body was no exception to that. To her there was no shame in following orders, and she took pride in playing her role perfectly. Nothing else was accepted from her masters, and she was never one to disappoint.

The excited chatter of her fellow women alerted her to the fact that they were drawing near to the great gates. Giving the weathered knife a final spin, she tucked it away, concealing it within her skirts. She was another step to completing her mission, and failure was not an option.


The Red Keep was an impressive structure of architecture, within and out. She had been in it for two days now, and had yet to see all of it. At the moment Esen was taking a stroll among the wide halls arm-in-arm with Ruwena, chatting and admiring the building. This served many purposes; it allowed her to collect information of the passageways and hear plenty of gossip from her companion. As extreme and harsh her upbringing had been, they had not been so foolish as to leave her as a piece who was useless with conversation and forging alliances. Information was never quite free.

Ruwena was another whore of King’s Landing who had come to the palace alongside her. She was a beauty with fair skin and a head of mahogany curls that bounced with each little move she made, and indeed, her personality was quite buoyant as well. Being of friendly disposition, it hadn’t taken long for her to latch onto ‘Nasira’ as a new friend, and she, in turn, was a bit fond of Ruwena. The woman was full of life and laughed loudly even as she talked of the troubles she had faced in her life. The woman had worked in a local brothel, and apparently had bedded the King several times—though she doubted there was a whore in King’s Landing that the Usurper hadn’t taken to bed.

“You know—he used to be so handsome, they say—” chattered Ruwena, adjusting her dress so it would sit lower on her full bosom. “Full of strength and vigor.” She blew out a quick sigh, turning to look at her with that particular expression on her pretty face before tugging her closer to whisper into her ear. “And I like to pretend he is still thus. Perhaps he is not young anymore, but he is still king.”

“Better than a young stable boy with no title, you mean,” she commented, tilting her head to fix the other woman with her pale, slanted amber eyes.

“Of course! Stable boys don’t promise you the world,” Ruwena chuckled, her curls bouncing along with her laughter. Before Esen could make a jape in return, Ruwena gave a start. “Ooh!” she uttered in a hushed voice, then pressed herself towards the wall, head lowered. She quickly followed suit as a beautiful woman swept past them, her steps ringing angrily despite the grace she moved with. Her wildfire green gaze did not bother to land on them, frigidly ignoring their presence and murmured ‘Your Majesty’s. They glanced up warily as she grew further away, and Ruwena let out a relieved exhale. “You know who she is, yes?”

“Queen Cersei,” she answered—the golden hair and green eyes fit the description she had been given. “She seems to be in a black mood.”

“Indeed. I doubt she is pleased that girls like us are here. Make sure you don’t catch her eye—she’s a Lannister lioness, through and through.” Ruwena warned seriously.

The raven-haired girl nodded in response, glancing at the figure of the queen who had grown small in the distance. Every move counted in a court as corrupted as this one; any anomaly would no doubt be noted. “D’you think his Majesty will summon for one of us soon?” she asked saucily, nudging the other girl.

“T’won’t be long, Nasira. His vigor has hardly subsided with age—and he loves us girls,” Ruwena returned with a similar smile. They continued gossiping about this and that as they walked, and even as she conversed, her mind was fixed on her goal.

The sooner the better, she thought. Everything she had trained for was right here, in the form of a piggish drunkard—and she couldn’t help but feel the dark impatience twisting within her. The land would be rid of the Usurper and the rightful ruler would rise to the throne.
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Offline Reigning King

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The dawn had only just broken, the sun stretching over the horizon and pouring sunlight into the chambers of the heir to the seven Kingdoms. His bed was empty, his room left in a disarray. The young Prince was not to be found in the room where he slept, but instead in a neighbouring room wherein he kept his books – most of which where gifted to him by his uncle Tyrion. The room was elaborately decorated with a well-crafted desk that had once belonged to Maekar Targaryen, a notorious father to madness, in its center. The history of the desk did not deter the Prince from usage, as he was presently seated at it, thumbing through the pages of yet another book.

He wore plain brown trousers that were rolled up at the ankles and an ill-fitting white shift. He kept his feet bare and his fingers without accessory, but stifled the chill of the morning hair with the robe given to him by his mother. It was crimson red, with a fur lining around the collar. Across the back and up the arms, lions were embroidered to be dancing across a sea of blood. His hair, naturally, was in a state of utter chaos, which he attempted to quell by fastening it away from it face in a low-hanging knot.

Lyan often spent his mornings in this fashion. Unable to achieve a full night of sleep he would end up wandering into his vast study to fill his head with all the knowledge he could. His father had always told him that it was strength that made a King, but Lyan liked to think he had more to offer the Realm than just the muscle of his sword swing. His uncle Tyrion and grandfather encouraged his pursuit of knowledge, continually supplying him with more books to read over. He had learned much, such as roadways and trade routes but also history and legend. There was nothing Lyan liked more than sitting alone in the peace of his study.

Knock, knock.

Peace never did last very long for Lyan.

“Yes?” He called.

The door opened and in walked Lord Baelish with a woman in tow. She had fair skin that flushed in the morning light and brown hair that looked to be slightly red in colour. It reminded him of Sansa and at once, Lyan felt his stomach turn over in the pit of his belly. This was not the first woman that Lord Baelish had brought to Lyan, and in the coming days he was sure to bring more. They got prettier each time and Lyan wondered how long it would be before they sent him a boy – thinking his preferences to be of a different nature.

He introduced her as Ruwena.

“It is good to meet you, mi’ Lady.” Lyan said to the girl, making her eyes grow wide and her cheeks flush almost as red as his robe.

“Another present from your mother.” Lord Baelish explained. “Perhaps this time you will use your gift for it’s proper purpose.” There was a bite to his words. Clearly this master of coin was not enjoying the rumours being spread about the quality of the whores he provided.

“Perhaps.” Lyan said back thoughtfully.

“This might help.” He said, his moustache twisting in unison with his mouth as he turned to the girl. She seemed to be doing her best to appear sultry. “Take it off.” He commanded, gesturing to the girl’s dress.

Bashfully, Lyan averted his eyes as the girl’s silks fell into a pool of cloth upon the stone floor. Lord Baelish looked to be enjoying his discomfort.

“Well then,” he said triumphantly. “Why don’t I just leave you to it.” Like a rat, Lord Baelish crept from the study, leaving the Prince and his new whore in silence together.

“Y-your Grace…” The girl began shyly after the silence had lingered for too long.

He rose from the desk where he sat, moving toward the girl. He kept his eyes on hers, sparing her the insult of a wandering gaze. Of course she, like all the others his mother had sent, would not know the meaning of such an insult having been subjected to it for far too long. At this thought his expression unwillingly veiled itself with pity. With gentle fingers, Lyan gathered the silks from the floor and replaced them over her naked body, fastening the ties at the back of her neck.

“You do not find me attractive, your Grace?” She asked as he pulled his hands away. She seemed to be struggling between portraying arousal and masking disappointment.

“Do you like what you do? Your… line of work – do you find it enjoyable?”

He had stumped her with the question and she narrowed her eyes suspiciously. “Of course, your Grace. I would find great joy in bringing you pleasure.” She spoke slowly, as though reciting words that had been rehearsed. In a final attempt at seduction, she placed a hand upon his chest and let it slide downward. By the time her dainty hand had reached his navel, he had caught it in his own.

“Please, come sit.” He guided the prostitute to the small cushioned bench that rested against the north wall of the room, surrounded by stacks of worn books. Once she was seated he placed her hand upon her own knee, setting his warm one on top of it.

“Do you like children?” He asked.

“Yes…” She answered cautiously. At this point she was likely very confused.

“Lady Sansa Stark, daughter to the Hand, you know of her?” He asked.

“Yes.”

“She is in need of a new handmaiden.”

Caught off guard and seemingly gasping for breath, the prostitute stumbled over her words. “Y-your Grace! I… I… oh.”

“You would braid her hair, empty her chamber pots and bring her meals.” He explained. He used a voice so gentle it were as though he thought his words might break her. “But you would also join her in court, and be addressed as a lady. If you serve her well, no man shall lay hand upon you until the time comes for Lady Sansa to choose you a husband from the King’s court.”

Beneath his large hand, her small one shook like a leaf in the wind.

“Does this seem agreeable to you?” He asked.

“Agreeable?” She repeated in disbelief. There were tears pooling in her round eyes. “Your Grace, I could not have dreamed of such kindness.”

He only smiled in return.

Catching her breath she turned to him again, placing her other hand atop his. “And how might I ever repay you?” She asked, the sultry look returning to her eyes. She must assume that in return for such a favour, he would ask her for a payment of the flesh. This game, however, was not of that nature and unfortunately this girl was merely another pawn his mother had moved against him.

“By pleasing Lady Sansa. She is important to me.” He pulled his hand out from between hers and then placed a hand on her back, guiding her into a standing position. “You will go to the tower of the Hand.” He began, leading her towards the door. “And you will find Lord Stark. Tell him that I have sent you and that you are to be his daughter’s new handmaiden. You will be given more modest clothes to fit your position and introduced to Lady Sansa when she awakens.”

“Yes, your Grace.” She said quickly, still caught up in the moment. Her eyes darted around and she touched her fingers upon books and shelves as she passed them, as though asserting that this was real and not a dream.

“Can you sing?” He asked as he opened the heavy wooden door.

“Yes, your Grace.”

“Good. Sansa’s favourite song is the hymn of the Gentle Mother. Do you know it?”

“Yes, your Grace.” She was growing less weary and more excited now, repeating herself enthusiastically like a bird calling for a mate.

“You should offer to sing it with her. She’ll like that.”

The two looked at one another in silence for a moment and Lyan wondered what the one-time whore was seeing. He knew he must look affright, his hair a mess and his face tired, yet she seemed to look at him as though he were dressed in gold. There seemed so much she wanted to say but could only muster, “thank you, your Grace.”

“Your welcome, Ruwena.” She seemed surprised he had remembered her name




Bouncing curls scurried from the Prince’s chambers not but mere minutes after they had entered, curls, which were still fully intact – barely dishevelled if at all. This could only suggest that, once again, no acts of depravity had transpired.

Seven hells…

“Whore.” Came the piercing voice of the monarch who called to her. She froze, like a doe stumbled upon by travellers, looking at the Queen with wide eyes. Stupid girl. They were all such stupid girls. “Don’t just stand there staring, come here.” She snapped viciously. The girl obeyed, rushing to her commander.

“Your Majesty.” She bowed deeply, so deeply in fact she was inches from kissing the Queen’s feet. How pathetic.

“Where do you think you’re going?”

“To the Hand’s Tower, your Majesty. I am to report as Lady Sansa Stark’s new handmaiden by the Prince’s orders. “ She remained in her bowed position as she spoke but the Queen reached out and seized her by the throat. Roughly, she jerked her pretty face upward so that she could meet her brutal shining green eyes.

“You will always be a whore.” She hissed.

Releasing her hold on the girl’s chin she shooed her from her sight before clutching at her temples, leaning against the tapestry coloured wall behind her. She breathed deeply through her nose trying to calm her rising temper.

“Another one?” Came a voice not so unlike that which had just spoken.

She turned to face her twin brother, Jamie. He was dressed in the uniform of the King’s Guard. The gold plated armour always suited him the best of all the Knights, making his hair look more resplendent against it. Jamie always looked handsome, but she thought he looked the most so when dressed in armour. It showed his strength. It showed his devotion – if not to the realm, than certainly to her. Already she felt better in his presence.

“That makes four, doesn’t it?” He asked, a smirk on his lips.

“Yes.” She agreed, exasperated. “Ned Stark’s girls gain a new handmaiden each, a harp player to amuse them as well as a chambermaid and his integrity is no less besmirched.” There was frustration in her voice but also a hint of amazement that Jamie was sure to detect.

“And when Robert calls upon these whores, who do you send in their place?” He asked her.

“Pigs.” She crossed her arms over her chest defiantly as she said it, as though expecting Jamie to argue against something so childish. “And he likely fucks his fill of them too, no doubt.”

Jamie wasn’t listening to her anymore. She could always tell when he grew distracted around her as he presently was. He was looking past her, she noticed, at the heavy wooden door that led to his nephew’s study. Both knew that on the other side of that wood, Robert’s son would be sitting in the sunlight reading his damned books. Cersei hated it, to see him read. It reminded her of her younger brother whom she despised almost as much. Jamie, however – against her instance – encouraged the behaviour.

“What is it?” She asked, placing a hand against the side of his face.

“Are you sure he isn’t my son?” Jamie asked. It was clear to Cersei that his mind was elsewhere.

“Why do you always ask me that?” She complained, removing her comforting touch from his face in anger. “It’s not funny.”

“Because… I keep hoping that one day you’ll tell me he is.”

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Offline asterin

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When night came, Esen returned to the small room she was sharing with several other whores. One or two were sure to be busy, but it did not apply to Ruwena or Esen. Once the lights burned down to mere embers, they crawled onto the thin mattresses, near back-to-back for lack of space. Ruwena was to the right of her, while another girl took the spot left of her, a curvy blonde called Alana. It didn’t take long for the blonde to fall asleep, but the same could not be said for Esen.

After a long stretch of nothing but breathing and the occasional mumbled word, Ruwena’s voice reached her through the dark. “Can’t sleep?” the girl whispered, her curls spilling over a shoulder. 

“Mm,” she mumbled in response, turning her gaze from the ceiling to her fellow bedmate. “Still not used to the surroundings, I suppose.” In truth, she was reviewing her mission, replaying her orders as obsessively as ever, but that was not something that could be told to the kindly girl.

“How about a lullaby?” Ruwena suggested.

“A lullaby?” she repeated the word as if it was a foreign concept.

“Yes, silly. Tell me your favorite one, I’ll sing it to you. I know quite a few, if I say so myself. I was a fussy babe, once!”

A moment of silence ensued. “…I don’t know any,” Esen admitted haltingly, feeling a hint of awkwardness. Never before had she had a reason to consider that fact.

“Oh,” Ruwena uttered quickly, sounding a bit taken aback by her unexpected answer. It didn’t take long for the cheery girl to find her composure, however, as she let out a huff and continued most decisively. “Well then, I’ll sing you my favorite. You’ll drop to sleep like a duckling.”

Seeing that there would be no use in protesting, she allowed the other woman to sing quietly. She had a gentle voice, Esen thought to herself as Ruwena warbled a song about meadows and sheep. She closed her eyes, searching her memory for some distant long forgotten past instance of a lullaby, but nothing came except for the ever-familiar sound of the canals.

Ruwena seamlessly transitioned into another tune, more formal than its predecessor, her voice growing even softer. Perhaps she was singing herself to sleep as well. “…Gentle Mother, strength of women, help our daughters through the fray..” Esen vaguely recognized the song as a hymn that had often been on lips back in Braavos. There were septs for those who followed the Faith—Braavos was as diverse as its people. “Soothe the wrath and tame the fury…teach us all…a kinder way…” The words grew slower and quieter until they gave way to soft, deep breathing.

The young assassin opened her eyes, watching the thin blankets rise and fall next to her. Sleep never came easy, for her profession made her well aware of what could be out there in the depths of night. She was in enemy territory, and her guard was raised sky-high. Others had attempted her mission. Some had died. Some had failed. She had no intention of falling into either category.

A tool that failed to complete what it was made for was a useless thing, headed rapidly to the fire.


Early next morning, she was woken when slumbering Alana promptly slung her plump forearm straight into her face. Lovely.

It was still quite early when Ruwena was called away by Baelish himself, who demanded that she dress herself properly (in which ‘properly’ meant as ‘improperly as possible’), and within minutes had spirited her away without much explanation. This sent many of the other girls into gossiping about the Usurper again, all of which she paid careful attention to.

Patience, she told herself. Her time was sure to come. However, the little semblance of impatience turned to an overhanging of uneasiness when it was midday and Ruwena had yet to return. The Usurper loved whoring, but she had been told how bloodthirsty he was. Why, he had taken pleasure in the slaughter of the royal children during the Sack, who had been mere babes! It would not be shocking for such a heartless monster to take to killing his whores as well.

However, she couldn’t allow any emotions to get in the way of her objective, and she exited the shared room, exploring the Red Keep on her own. It was a bit riskier than moving with a companion, for it would be easier for someone to mark her as suspicious. To remedy this, she took the pretense of being lost for most of her walk, flirtatiously asking a guard here and there innocent-sounding questions about where she could find this place or that hall. The results were fruitful, and her mental map expanded, with routes of escape and secluded areas marked definitively.

It was near nighttime that she returned to the room—but Ruwena’s presence was missing. Just as she felt a frown coming forth, she heard the voice of the very woman she was in search of. “Oh Nasira! Nasira!” She jerked to attention as Ruwena bounded into the room, curls bouncing madly with her steps—but it was not distress that twisted her features, just excitement.

“Ruwena!” she gasped as the other woman snatched her up into a near crushing embrace. “What is it? What’s happened?”

“Oh, Nasira, it’s the most wonderful thing! It’s like my dreams have been answered,” Ruwena released her, and Esen noted that the clothes she wore were different from the dress she had worn in the morning. It was modest and of good quality, and the pale green suited the girl’s fair complexion and eyes. “I’m to be a handmaiden! To the daughter of the Hand of the Realm himself! I can’t believe it.” She gushed, “No more lifting skirts, I,” her words faltered as big tears gathered in her shining eyes. “Sorry, sorry, I’m just…”

The dark haired girl felt her lips spread into a smile as she laughed, giving the apologetic woman an embrace of her own. “I’m so happy for you.” Something stirred within her that she couldn’t quite label—an unfamiliar warmth. Pleasant. “Dry your eyes, you big child,” she teased gently, as Ruwena laughed through her tears.

“And the Lady Stark is so kind,” the girl exclaimed near-dreamily. “She’s a lovely young girl, and not at all haughty or harsh. And I’m to be called a lady—can you imagine that? A lady. Lady Ruwena. By the Mother, I never thought I’d be a lady.”

“Then what are you doing back here?” Esen asked humorously. “Shouldn’t you be tending to your mistress and doing all sorts of lady-like things, Lady Ruwena?” That earned another laugh from the former whore.

“To tell you, of course! You didn’t think I’d disappear without telling you, did you?” she responded, giving Esen’s side a little pinch.

“No, of course not.” She smiled, caught up in the buoyant girl’s excitement. She opened her mouth to inquire how such a turn of events had come to be, but she was interrupted by the loud clearing of a throat. The two young women spun around to sight Littlefinger in the doorway once more. He openly ignored Ruwena, who was staring at the floor, and pointed to Esen.

“You. Fix yourself up, and wear something special, you’ve been summoned.” That was all before he disappeared back into the hallway, leaving the two abruptly surprised.

 “Your turn at last,” Ruwena commented, sounding a bit saddened. The new handmaiden was wishing that her friend would be granted the same kindness she had been, but did not dare say so in case it was not to be.

“My turn at last,” the assassin echoed, though there was nothing but tightly wound excitement in her chest. Finally! her blood sang joyfully. Finally! She busied herself with dressing in layers of translucent silks, red in color and outlandish in style to accentuate her more foreign features. Ruwena assisted her with her hair and dabbing pleasant fragrances along her neck. In her hair she fixed a hairpin, pretty enough outwardly but hiding a weapon when maneuvered correctly. Esen needed no weapon to kill, but no assassin was foolish enough to embark on their mission without various plans of action. She tucked a stray strand of hair behind her ear and turned to Ruwena. “Do I look pleasing?” she asked with a wry smile.

“You look beautiful,” Ruwena corrected cheerily. 

It was rather strange for Esen to be told so by another girl, and for the first time she felt a bit shy. Many a man had told her she was beautiful, none of which meant anything to her at all, really. They said many things, all of which turned to dust in the wind. She donned a more modest robe on top to obscure her clothes—no need to stick out in the corridors. Looking at the curly haired girl, Esen became aware of the fact that she would not see her anymore once the assassination was complete. She simply gave Ruwena an encouraging smile as she turned to the door. There was little that could be said.

When she exited into the hallway, Petyr Baelish looked her up and down before loosening the robe to approve of what she wore underneath. “Come along then,” he said briskly, leading the way through the darkened palace. He knew the corridors like the back of his hand, not being a stranger to traversing them in the middle of the night. He was silent during the journey, but once the intended door was in sight, he began to speak of her task. “You are another gift from Queen Cersei to her beloved son, Prince Lyan,” he then continued with a hint of annoyance in his smooth voice, “He’s turned them all away.” He turned to her with his sharp little smile, which meant nothing good, in her brief experience. “Well, five is a nice round number.”

Realizing that she would be sent to the wrong bed, Esen stopped short, feeling as if the blood had suddenly frozen in her veins. “I believed I was to be attending to his Majesty the King,” she stated, maintaining a vague façade even as her brain worked madly to fix what had gone awry. No, no, this was all wrong—this could not be!

“And I believed whores didn’t have a choice when it came to spreading their legs,” Baelish returned without a pause, his tone casual though his grey-green eyes were biting. When she still did not move, only returning his gaze defiantly, he grasped her forearm and yanked her closer. “You’ll go in there, and you’ll do what you’re best at,” he hissed, somehow still sounding affable. Impatiently, he brusquely tugged the robe off of her as he continued. “He’ll have you, and by the Seven if you come out of that room untouched and with the ability to walk at all, you won’t have to mourn about which title you’re fucking, because you’ll be too far away to even hear such titles.” It was a marvel indeed how Littlefinger managed to get that out of his mouth while still sounding so pleasant, but it was a feat he did not flinch at. “Understood?” he inquired, but at a lack of the girl’s response he repeated himself more forcefully.

“Understood, m’lord,” she retorted, her words dripping with sickly sweetness that mirrored his pleasant threats. It was not appreciated by Baelish, but he returned to his task at hand, knocking on the heavy wooden door.

At a word of affirmation, he opened the door and led her in, finding the form of the prince. “Your Grace, another gift,” his introduction was a bit short, seeing that this was the second time he had charged with this ridiculously frustrating task in a day. “Your mother expresses her deep hurt that you seem to regift her expression of love to others.” The words were as sharp as they were manipulative—Baelish knew his victims well.

“This is—” he trailed off, realizing that he had not learned the girl’s name in his annoyance.

“Nasira.” she supplied coolly, not feeling particularly helpful at the moment.

“Indeed.” He said shortly. He did not linger long, having been irked by both prince and girl, but not before sending her a meaningful glare. The door closed a bit loudly behind him as he left, but Esen was no longer focused on Littlefinger.

However, the raven haired girl knew the nature of Littlefinger’s threat—she would be sent away from the Red Keep if she did not do what he wished of her. That raised a large mountain of problems for her, because that would mean she would fail the sole mission she had been given. The mere thought of failure sent her head spinning, nearing on an identity crisis; she had been crafted for one task, and failing meant she was useless.

Despite the turmoil raging in her head, she glanced up at the prince. With a head full of unruly curls and high cheekbones, she could spot physical resemblance to the king and queen. Besides that, she did not give herself or the young man in front of her time to contemplate the situation. Failure was unacceptable, and she would fight against it tooth and nail.

She made the first move, closing in on him like a panther on its prey; no blushing or stuttering, or even feigned embarrassment was part of her gambit. “I was told you’ve been turning away girls, m’lord,” she intoned as she drew closer. With each step she shed a layer, tossing it aside with careless disdain while her amber eyes bored into his. “Do you plan on ‘regifting’ me as well?” she asked inquisitively, one eyebrow arching daringly. The determined young woman gave him no reprieve as she continued to step closer, swiftly taking hold of one of his hands to place it on her breast in a show of unabashed boldness. "You do not think you would...ah, regret such a decision?" Not for one split second did she avert her eyes from his.

Esen didn’t care what his reasons were for not bedding the whores he was sent. She did not care at all. Her goal, the very purpose of her life was to follow her orders—her order to assassinate the Usurper. No one would stand in her way, and the refusal of some princeling would certainly not become a reason for failure.
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Offline Reigning King

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“Lyan… I’m warning you boy.” His father cautioned.

The King sat at a stone table with his lunch in front of him, Lyan standing across from him on the other side of it. Between them, the young man had laid out a map of the Seven Kingdoms, which was covered in various lines and drawings. Some dotted lines indicated unused trade routes while others identified lands that were unprotected by Lord or Lady, leaving them open to bandits and thieves. There were other markings on the map as well. Locations that needed developmental assistance, locations where food was scarce, and the taxes of each location where all identified on the parchment between them.

This was not the first time that Lyan had attempted to have a conversation of such a nature with his father. Intellectual suggestion was not something that the King of Westeros responded well to. Over the years the young Prince had attempted several different tactics of persuasion, none of which seemed to resonate with this ridiculously stubborn stag. Apparently, visual aids were not assisting him in making his point known either.

But was Lyan not also a stag?

“Father, you aren’t listening.” He insisted. “What I’m suggesting could solve the problem of debt that the crown faces. Taxing the people in order to pay for your store-fills of wine isn’t serving the Realm, it’s killing it.”

“Enough, Lyan.” His father said sternly.

“Just look, please.” He pleaded, turning the map to point out a particular point in King’s Landing. “By employing the impoverished to build the trade ships we would need to open the third route with Dorne, we would put coin into the pockets of nearly everyone in Flea Bottom.”

“Enough.”

“They’re starving to death down there, Father. Don’t you understand these are the people you’re meant to protect?”

“I said enough!”

King Robert was standing now with his weight resting upon the balled fists he had just crashed into the stone tabletop. His face was reddened by anger as he looked to his son. To see the two one might think they were each looking into a mirror, the resemblance they bore was so similar. It was curious to think how a Father and son who looked so alike could be so utterly different.

“I am King boy, not you.” King Robert said to his son in a deadly voice. “Don’t tell me how to do my job.”

It was hard to imagine that the soft tissue and rolls of fat that now saddled his Father were once strong muscles that rippled beneath the swing of his hammer. It was hard to imagine that the beady, dark eyes that had gotten lost in the swell of his fattening face had once been capable of bringing a man to his knees with a look. It was hard to imagine that this man, this King, this Protector had ever given half a damn about the Realm. Could he even call himself a King? It seemed as though his only job was to sit his oversized rear end upon the Iron Throne when he needed to make a spectacle of himself.

“That’s just it Father.” Lyan’s voice was gentle, pleading and full of underserved understanding. “You’re not.”

“I’ll not sit here and listen to this.” He slid his chair back and moved around the table, knocking into and scattering all the lists, charts and maps that Lyan had so carefully prepared for him.

“Father, please, just take a look at the—”

“You are no son.” The King hissed, poking a fat finger into a tender spot on Lyan’s shoulder from his sword lessons with his uncle earlier that day. He didn’t wince, much to his Father’s displeasure. “You speak of honor and duty but you don’t know the words.”

His Father made move to close in on him but seemed to reconsider as if he had only just realized that his son had grown taller than him. For a moment he wavered and his eyes grew loving again but at Lyan’s stern expression they stormed once more into a cloud of anger. The rapid swing a mood suggested to Lyan that his Father had already had more than enough wine and it was just barely midday.

“Ours is the fury, those are our words. I’m not dead yet and there’s plenty of fury left for anyone who tries to sit in my place before their time.” It was with those words that King Robert left his son, standing on the terrace with a half-eaten chunk of pork and some scattered scribbling’s of a peaceful world that seemed would never exist, no matter how badly Lyan wanted it to.

He stood there in his own silence for a moment, allowing the echoes of his Father’s shouts to quiet in his head before finally – with his own particular brand of fury – he began to gather his work bitterly.

“Perhaps it’s you that needs the handmaiden,” a girlish voice joked. Lyan turned to see Sansa standing in the archway of the terrace with Ruwena, her new handmaiden, hovering just behind her. Lyan turned to look at her and she smiled at him sweetly as she always did. “Surely you didn’t make this mess?” She asked as she looked to the parchment and ink covered table.

“Unfortunately, I did.” Lyan admitted before offering Sansa and her handmaiden a polite bow.

“What’s all this?” Sansa asked, walking over to the stone table. Pulling her dainty hands from her sleeves she looked at the parchment scattered across the table, her innocent curiosity eyeing each detail. “Oh wow, Lyan…” She muttered quietly. Her thin fingers touched at the edges of the charts and maps, moving them so that they were aligned to her sight. She seemed confused at first but the longer she looked the wider her smile got. It was becoming apparent that she was becoming engrossed with Lyan’s scribbling’s and so he elected to pull her from her trance.

“Sansa?” He asked.

“Sorry.” She said quickly, pulling her hands back from the parchments as though they had burned her. She blushed and then recovered by turning to her handmaiden who lingered by the archway and waving her onto the terrace. “We wanted to thank you properly.” She explained.

“I’ll assume you’re getting along well then?” He asked, raising an eyebrow. As he spoke he moved to the table to gather up his work. It seemed he wouldn’t find an appreciating eye to look upon his carefully researched plans until it was he who was filled with wine and a self-righteous complex to rule.

“Oh yes, famously.” Sansa said, offering a grin to her handmaiden. The two clutched hands like they had been friends for their whole lives, giggling at each other and clearly eager to be alone in one another’s company so that they may continue their girlish follies.

“I hope Lady Sansa isn’t being too bossy.” He said to Ruwena who shook her head violently and looked between Lyan and Sansa.

“Oh no, of course not. No, Lady Sansa is wonderful.” Sansa acknowledged the compliment with a smile.

“When have I ever been bossy?” She asked Lyan playfully, stepping towards him.

It occurred to Lyan at that moment that such an interaction might be seen as flirting by one so naïve as Sansa. Though he couldn’t possibly imagine allowing Joffrey to marry and then consequently ruin one of his dearest friends he had still not entirely warmed up to the notion of marrying her himself. Besides, there were far too many things on the young Prince’s plate for him to be filling his mind with thoughts of girls and marriage.

“Never Sansa, I’m only teasing.” With his parchments gathered into his arms he walked over to the daughter of the Hand and laid a familial kiss on the top of her head. “Why don’t you take Ruwena with you to watch the Knights practice their joust?” He suggested as he moved off the terrace and towards the adjoining door that led into the Red Keep.

“Would you like to go?” Sansa asked her handmaiden with a giggle as she followed after Lyan.

“Only if you do, Lady Sansa.” Ruwena replied sweetly. The two giggled together at the mischievous, womanly thoughts that they were silently communicating between one another.

“Will I see you at supper?” Sansa called after Lyan as he started down the corridors.

“Of course. Until then.” With a bow and a smile, Lyan turned the corner and left.




Not even supper with Starks could quell Lyan’s lingering irritation with his Father. He attended his lessons with Maester Pycelle, joined his mother in the Sept of Baelor for afternoon prayer, and continued his work in his study but nothing could silence his Father’s shouts, which repeated in his head over and over again. It was unfathomable to Lyan how one man could be full of such arrogance. Only once he was in the privacy of his own chambers and able to let his mask of pleasantry fall to reveal the pain of his Father’s rejection did he begin to feel a little better.

That alleviation of his mood was short lived though as it wasn’t long before there was someone rapping thin knuckles upon his door. He knew who it was and what the matter would be and so, with a dreary tone that he could not help, Lyan called Lord Baelish in. This time it was a more exotic looking whore accompanied him, who was, once again, a present from his mother.

Lyan did not have the energy for this. Lyan did not have the patience for this. Lyan was not in the mood for this.

However, his mood seemed to be the least of concerns for the woman who had been introduced as Nasira. She had barely waited until Lord Baelish was out the door before she began her approach on him. Immediately she began to shed layers of clothes. Caught off guard, Lyan couldn’t resist the instinct to back away from the woman as she encroached on him, invading his space in a forceful way that he had yet to encounter from a woman such as she.

“This really isn’t…” but she was already talking over him.

“You misunderstand, you see…” but she was already seizing his hand and pressing it against her exposed breast.

Lyan halted for a moment and allowed his gaze to meet that of this exotic creature. She was lovely of face like all the others had been but also incredibly fierce. For the first time he found himself feeling intimidated by the sexual circumstances he now found himself in with this woman. She played like she wanted him. She played like she wouldn’t take no for an answer. Were he his Father’s son he would let himself believe her. Were he his Father’s son he would close what little space remained between them and take her like they all wanted him to. Were he his Father’s son he wouldn’t be simply standing there, with his hand upon a whore’s breast, looking stupid.

Yet it seemed he was not his Father’s son.

“I admire your determination, Nasira. But…” He removed his hand from her breast and broke the intense eye contact she had been holding. The moment he tore his gaze away from hers, he felt a touch more in control of the situation. “I’m afraid I’m not in the mood.” He added.

He moved past her and gathered the clothing she had shed. He folded it in his hands with care, as though they were the garments of the Queen herself, and moved back to the exotic woman, offering the coverings out to her.

“You needn’t pretend, I’m not going to be… taking you, tonight.” He said the words awkwardly but they were accompanied by a kind smile. “Please,” he said, gesturing to the clothes that were in his hands.

Truthfully, Lyan just wanted to sleep.

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Offline asterin

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He was stammering out protests, insisting there was a misunderstanding. Oh, but it was he who misunderstood the situation. Though her boldness had indeed fazed him—poor princeling, had he never had the tables turned on him?—he did nothing but stare at her. Before she could distract him in some other way, he tore his eyes away from her and murmured that he was ‘not in the mood.’ She could have slapped him silly for that alone.

Esen had never been refused in such a manner before, and even though she only play-acted a whore for her mission, it strangely stung. Had he taken a vow of chastity or something? The spawn of the whoremaster! What a farce! She would have laughed aloud if she hadn’t been so furious. He held out the red silks she had littered on his floor and she took them as if they would burn her hands. His words were gentle, and he was smiling kindly, but if he had wished to console her, they had the opposite effect. This was wrong. This stupid princeling was going to get in the way of her mission, her life’s mission, and she could not allow that to happen.

She fell to her knees in front of him, her demeanor changing so abruptly it was akin to whiplash. “Please, m’lord,” she begged, her amber eyes beginning to water rapidly. “Do not send me away. It would be a cruelty without equal to throw me out—do not shame me so.” While the thought of failing her mission made her more angry than sad, there was nothing like fury to fuel a pitiful emotional plea.

“If you send me away now," she uttered tearfully,"If m'lord is to send me away now, know it is no different from taking my life.” Tears streaked down her face, falling into her lap and staining the silks pooled about her body. He had thought her to be pretending, but this desperation was very genuine, while it was for…other reasons.

While the young assassin doubted that crying and pleading would make him want to take her to bed (though she had come across a few who were partial to such fantasies), she had realized that having him bed her—while the easiest way—wasn’t the only to move past this pesky obstacle. All she had to do was get him to let her stay the night and arrange things so that anyone who wished it so would assume her seduction had been successful. Perception and assumption, while subtle, could be powerful when wielded skillfully.

Now to convince him to let her stay… Her posture straightened, her eyes taking on a new light as if she had thought of something good. “You look tired, m’lord. Does sleep elude you these days? I could be of use, then,” she suggested, her voice almost shy. How she changed her faces—so quickly, so effortlessly. “I used to sing my siblings to sleep.” Now that was a blatant lie if there ever had been one, but it was one she was willing to make. She had known no family, much like her fellow street rats. The only songs she knew were the ones Ruwena had sung to her the night before, but she was desperate enough to improvise as she could. “Or I could read something out loud for m’lord.”

It was rare for whores to know how to read, but she was no whore. Fortunately, whores came from a variety of backgrounds. There were too many lies she could easily fabricate into a believable history for this ‘Nasira.’ Perhaps she had been a merchant’s daughter, who had fallen into hard times after the death of her father. Or perhaps, she had learned to read after having been a paramour of a renowned scholar.

It mattered not—and maybe those false pasts were better than the truth. The dark canals of Braavos was her ancestral home, and her siblings her fellow assassins she had trained alongside. Her lullabies had been her masters’ teachings, whispers of the Usurper’s treachery. Her life’s meaning was to eliminate anything and anyone that stood between the Iron Throne and its rightful ruler. While her first goal was the obvious—the Usurper himself, Esen well understood that as crown prince, this very princeling was to be an eventual target as well. It was risky to kill him first, however. Recklessness and stupidity had made many an assassin before her fail…or die.

Perhaps it was better this way, Esen thought to herself, coldly calculating. It was better to win some trust from the princeling. It would make things easier for later, after all. No doubt it would be more difficult to infiltrate and assassinate the crown prince so soon after the Usurper had been murdered. If she was discreet enough in her methods, she would be better off staying within the Red Keep, until she was ready to strike again.

But this was all in the future, and it would be all for naught if he refused her and chased her away, to where Baelish was just itching to make good on his threats. Esen looked up at the prince through her dark, wet lashes, silently pleading.
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Offline Reigning King

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“Oh.”

She fell to her knees before him. Tears pooled in her pensive, fierce eyes as she looked up at him from her crumbled position on the stone floor. In no more than a heartbeat’s time the hot fire that raged around her had been snuffed out like a candle. She had seared red and dominating, like the tallest licks of a great pyre. Suddenly now, she was no more than a cooled wick. He felt himself, the wax of his desires previously melting and dripping, begin to harden. To think that these were the women that his father dragged by the hair into his chambers each night. Young girls who played at lovers while beneath their silks and naked flesh their souls were torn apart.

“Oh, please don’t cry.” He began, stooping to meet her where she knelt. Had he felt any suggestions of lust before they were firmly smothered now. His father had always criticized him for his gentility. Where is your fury? he would demand. Yet there was no glory in these sort of conquers. There was no satisfaction in taking something that had already long ago been stolen.

He kept his pity at bay, reeling it back from his tired face and keeping it from peaking out upon his expression. Behind his mask of calm and comforting, he hid other things as well, like his annoyance and disgust. These things he felt not necessarily towards the pretty thing before him now, but rather these thoughts were directed at those who had sent her to his bed. Were there not better things for these manipulative game-players to do then rob him of his sleep? Would their skills not be better served helping him rather than attempting to tear him down? But it was not a Princely thing to do, to take out his frustrations on this poor girl. He expected that his mother would be raging by this point, and he believed her that punishment awaited if he was to send her away.

“What cruelties is Littlefinger practicing now?” He mumbled, more to himself than the desperate girl he looked at now. He tore his eyes from hers, looking instead to the reds that were gathered around her. With a surprisingly delicate hand one wouldn’t expect from a young man who looked as he did, he lifted her clothes and placed them over her head.

“You can stay.” He began, taking her hands into his own. “I won’t make you sleep on the floor, but I must ask you not to disturb me in the night.” He guided her to a standing position. The remainder of her silks he placed in her hands. He wasn’t fool enough to try and dress her, women’s clothes were not something he was particularly knowledgeable in and he had embarrassed himself enough for one night. “You’re right that I am tired, and I know you were sent here to complete a certain… task — but please abandon it. In the morning you can tell Lord Baelish whatever you like.”

He moved away from her and instead over to his large feather bed. It would be a more comfortable sleep than the girl had likely experienced since arriving at the Red Keep, and the bed was large enough that Lyan was confident he could go the whole night without so much as brushing her leg. He tugged off his robe, leaving him in just his night time smalls. He pulled back the quilts and furs, revealing the soft surface of the bed beneath. Gesturing to the bed he said, “you can sleep on the left side, I like to be close to the window.”

Climbing into his bed he felt his muscles relax as he rolled onto his back. Staring up at the canopy above him he sighed loudly, bringing his hands to rest comfortably behind his head. He traced the patterns embroidered to resemble a night sky above him as he came to terms with his apparent surrender. She had been trying for so long now to prove he was not the noble young man he had attempted for so long to convince her he was. He didn’t know why his mother hated him, yet she did all the same. She hated him almost as much as she hated her husband and while he had done well to deflect her attacks on his character, he was warming to the idea of this war being over, even if it meant his defeat.

“She’ll never let me live this down…” He muttered to himself, his eyes growing heavy as he counted the stars again and again. “She’ll say… She’ll say I’m just like my father…” With a yawn and one final stretch, Lyan surrendered to the inviting cradle of a decent night’s sleep.




When his eyes opened again the next morning, the sun had not yet even begun it’s climb up eastern sky. Rubbing the sleep from his face he glanced over at the small form of the sleeping girl beside him in bed. As the memories of the theatrics from the previous evening returned to his groggy mind a sour expression overtook his sleepy visage. Today would be a busy day for him, including a small council meeting, lessons with his uncle and while he could try to avoid his mother he would have to face her eventually. She would look at him with that smug broad grin of hers and shake her head. Her emerald eyes would blaze with hatred and her words, though spoken with a soft voice, would bite worse than all the winters there had ever been. For now though, he would steal away to his favourite hiding place.

With a groan he rolled out of bed, plucking his fur-lined robe from where he had discarded it on the floor. Leaving the girl to sleep in his bed, he padded his bare feet across his bedroom floor to reach the door on the opposite side that led to his study. He didn’t bother closing it behind him out of habit, and made himself comfortable at his desk. There he set to work on the project he had begun the day before.

Before him he had, spread across his desk, a map of Westeros. He danced his caliper across it, charting the course from the the Vale to King’s Landing. Yet another proposal that would fall on deaf ears, Lyan mapped a safe route that could carry stones, mined from the Vale, through the River Lands. There were many townships and small collections of villages that were unprotected by the Lords who governed the more wild lands. This was a fact raised many times by Lyan in council to the King, to which he always argued that there were not enough men to guard and govern the River strewn land. His new course of action was to suggest building fortifications around these villages so that men would not be needed, and instead the people could be protected from bandits and looters by their walls.

He held his quill in his teeth as ink-stained fingers trailed across the map. He would pause periodically to consult the books that surrounded him, or make a note upon either map or parchment. There would be many things to complete before submitting this proposal (likely in vain) to his father. Drafts would have to be drawn for Lord Hoster Tully and his associates, additionally money for the employment of builders would need to be found, for which he would have to meet with Lord Baelish. Littlefinger was not a favourite of the Prince, but for the purpose of his work, they consulted one another often. Such work to be done and yet Lyan would do it all. If there were anything left to be done besides a measly signature and a royal seal his father would be sure to reject it. The King was a man of wars, but not a man of words. With a hammer in his hand and armour on his back he could rule the free world. He was, however, completely unwilling to do the true work required of a King. That was where Lyan so often stepped in.

“This might work,” he muttered to himself as he poured over the pages. The sun had started to crawl up and over the horizon now and he could feel it’s warmth on his back. Soon he would have to close his books and set himself to other matters. For now though, he could at least pretend that the Seven Kingdoms weren’t entirely doomed to fall at the feet of his father’s whoring and drinking.

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Offline asterin

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“What cruelties is Littlefinger practicing now?” she heard him murmur under his breath—and with those words, she knew she had succeeded in winning him over. However the young woman did not dare stray from her desperation until she heard the words of confirmation from the princeling’s lips. The relief that coursed through her form at his words was apparent—she let out a shuddering sigh, looking up at him with gratitude brimming in her amber eyes.

“Oh, thank you m’lord,” she murmured, “You are too kind to your servant girl.” She nodded vigorously as he requested that she did not disturb him during the night. “Of course, m’lord. Quiet as a mouse.” He helped her up and she clung to his hand like it was a lifeline, all the while fixing him with an intensely grateful gaze. Esen was indeed tremendously relieved that her ploy had worked, though the gratitude was more for his sake than her own. She was sure that’s what he wanted from her. Tears were an effective weapon, but it had been a last resort—she had not expected to be met with such soft-heartedness. Not in King’s Landing. Not from the whoremaster’s spawn.

He handed her the silks that had be strewn about her form, and she shyly took them from him. She slipped on the bottom-most layer of her silks, making herself relatively decent—though it wasn’t much, considering that the design hadn’t been meant for decency. He turned his back on her and moved towards the large bed at the other end of the room; she watched every move he made carefully, eyes like those of a cat stalking its prey. But when he looked her way, she had morphed seamlessly into the whore in distress. “Is it truly alright?” she hesitantly made her way to his side, and only slipped into the giant bed once he had climbed into it. She curled up within it, feigning nervous glances. “May m’lord be blessed with a restful night,” she whispered.

The bed was indeed quite heavenly—nothing like the stiff pallet she had been sleeping on during her nights in the Keep, and certainly nothing like the damp stones of the canals. It felt foreign and strange to be privy to such luxury, but it was even stranger to be in a bed with a man and not be bedding him. Or, well, bedding him and then proceeding to murder him in various creative ways.

She darted a look at the princeling crammed towards the window. He was staring up at the canopy, and she realized the cloth had been expertly embroidered to depict a night sky. She would have called it ‘pretty’ in another life, but this girl had not been raised to appreciate the pretty things in life. The assassin closed her eyes, though she was far from relaxing; she did not miss his sleepy words, and she lay there as he slipped off to slumber, contemplating the meaning of them to herself. Who was this she?


"Jump, girl!" her master called from the ground, arms outstretched, his craggy face the same as always. "You do not need worry, I'll catch you. How many years have I taught you? Do you not trust me? Jump!"

She stood on the edge of the roof. It was very high, and she toed the rough plating nervously. Her shoe had a hole worn into the tip, and she wriggled her big toe, making it stick out. Never before had her master told her or any of the other children to do such a thing like this. She had been taught to land safely from high places, but here he was telling her that he would catch her. At nine she was still skinny and nothing but a wisp of a child, but she was as nimble as the wind. Her mop of short black hair blew into her small, juvenile frowning face and she distractedly brushed it out of the way, taking a breath. "Jump!" his gruff voice came again, and she obeyed, leaping off the roof with a burst of strength. Seconds before she could reach his form, he suddenly dropped his arms and stepped away, giving her only a second to process and make a hasty tuck-and-roll landing, smashing her shoulder into the hard ground.

A groan of pain threatened to escape her mouth as she lay there in the dirt, but she grit her teeth and sucked the sound within her. Slowly, she unfurled herself, her left shoulder and arm burning painfully. She had not dislocated it, it seemed, but from the feeling, she had probably sprained it. She looked up to meet the master's cold eyes, and tried to mask the confusion on her face into the emotionless blankness she had been taught to wear at all times. "This is one of the most important lessons I will ever teach you, girl," he said coolly, his words floating to her as he turned away and walked back into the building. "Never trust anyone."


She woke, her eyes snapping open to fix their gaze on the empty space next to her. It was quite late into the morning—the sun was dappling on the fine blankets. Esen had been reluctant to let sleep take her the night before, but judging by the dream and the fact that she had not woken when the princeling had proved she had been in a deeper slumber than she usually allotted herself. She pushed herself into a sitting position, rubbing the sleep from her eyes. She did not like to dwell on dreams too much—dwelling on useless things could easily become fatal or distract one from their objectives. Speaking of which, where was the prince?

The raven haired young woman found him at his desk, fingers stained with ink and intently concentrated on what seemed to be a map of Westeros. The map was not the only thing on the desk, however—it nearly overflowed with parchment and heavy tomes. Did all princelings start their studies so early? No, this could not be any sort of pompous lesson from some maester. After all, he was still in that robe of his, and there was no maester to be seen in sight. She peered at the map from her spot at the doorframe, her typical unfathomable expression settling comfortably on her features.

She could only assume that while the Usurper was blatant in his display of piggish greed and lust, his progeny had something of a head on his shoulders. Surely he was just as rotten on the inside, but he played at being a paragon of pristine morals, if last night had been any sort of indication—a cunning move. Her eyes narrowed into slits. She would have to watch him more carefully. It was one thing to have a monstrous target, but it was another thing entirely to be dealing with a target as intelligent as he was monstrous.

Esen cleared her throat boldly, fixing the young man with a feline smile when he noted her presence. She did not apologize for interrupting his work. “I wished to thank Your Grace for his kindness,” she curtsied, though she did not bow her head as she should have. She sank down with her head held high, eyes meeting his daringly—it wouldn’t do to let him become complacent. “I will not forget it.” Oh no, she would remember it well; she would remember how he’d unwittingly helped her assassinate his father and ultimately himself. Perhaps she’d give him a sweeter death than most deserved. With those words hanging in the air, she left as abruptly as she had been introduced into his room, her silks gathered in her arms.

As she’d expected, a certain mustached man was waiting for her in the corridor. His mustache twirled along with his smile—something about him just reminded her so much of the rats in the canal. “M’lord,” she acknowledged him, though her voice did not lack the edge it was accustomed to having.

“He had you?” he asked pointedly, though it seemed he had already taken in the sight of her tousled hair and thinly clothed state.

“Why else does a whore stay in a man’s bedchamber for a night, m’lord?” she retorted sweetly, her lips twisting into a smirk.

Littlefinger did not seem outwardly impressed. “For a night, yes. But until the morning?” he raised his eyebrows quizzically.

“What did you expect, m’lord?” the young woman’s voice took on an undercurrent of mockery. “After four inadequate whores, m’lord did not suspect he would be quite…repressed?”

Baelish narrowed his eyes at her, but seemed to be satisfied with her answer, if not irritated by her tongue. “Then you need not worry about your stale pallet. It stays reserved for you,” he told her in a very particular pleasant tone that would make a grown man fidget. “You are dismissed,” he gestured at her with a thin smile. Esen did not waste more time, catching the cloak he flung at her and leaving quickly after donning it. She would bathe and redress, and do more sweeps on the Red Keep while she waited to be called away to the Usurper’s bed—things had been briefly thrown off track, but she had managed to straighten its course. As she crept away, she thought she heard a woman let out a short, triumphant laugh.
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Steel clashed violently, sending sparks shooting from the blades that collided. These were not practice swords, but the men who held them were not the sort in need of further practice. Though it would be obvious to any onlooker that one possessed far more skill than the other, the two men were evenly matched in stature which made the duel a little more interesting. Recoiling from the strike they each readjusted their grips and assessed their footing against one another.

“You swing too heavily.” Jamie Lannister began, gesturing to the sword hand of his nephew. “If I threw you off balance you’d not stand a chance.”

Lyan looked down at his sword, with the tip down he moved his hand about in order to find a more appropriate grip. His uncle closed in on him and moved his hand for him before crooking his elbow and tucking it tight into his side. Smiling he said, “strike from there. You have a long reach, and you’ll hold your footing.”

He practiced the thrust before sparring over again with his uncle Jamie. This time he found more mobility in his swing as well as a more graceful step in his fluid movements. He never argued when his uncle gave him advice, unlike his younger brother Joffrey. Lyan understood that there were things he had yet to learn in life. His many uncles were some of his best teachers, and he preferred their lessons to those of Maester Pycelle.

“Better.” Jamie grinned. “Much better.”

After such a long morning, Lyan allowed the ghost of a smile to tickle the corners of his mouth. It was not very often that the Prince received praise. Though utter opposites the one thing his uncles of Stark and Lannister shared in common was their quickness to offer Lyan supportive words. The uncles of house Baratheon had either no opinion to offer, like Renly, or were too stoney to crack even a smile, like Stannis. Yet there were none who believed him less worthy than his very own parents. The subject of this morning’s council meeting was to host a tournament for the Hand pitched by one such parent. Lyan of course disagreed with the whole affair, perhaps the only objection louder than his own was that of the Hand himself. However, unlike Lyan’s proposals, which went entirely ignored, this one came form the King’s own mouth which meant that it was beyond contestation. After such a morning, it was nice to come out to the fighting yard and hit something.

“So…” Jamie began, a wicked smirk playing on his face. Lyan didn’t like that smile. It reminded him too much of his mother. “How was it?” He asked.

“How was what?”

“Losing your virginity?” Lyan need only look at the expression upon his uncle’s face to know what incident he was referring to. No doubt his mother had already whispered into every ear that would listen, hissing about her son and his allegedly vile ways.

“I’ve been with girls before,” Lyan retorted bitterly. He moved around his uncle, matching his cleverly placed footing. “And I haven’t had to pay them.”

“Except for last night.” Jamie corrected. He blocked Lyan’s strike and danced away from him smoothly.

“Not except for last night.” Lyan corrected. The anger was rising the heat in his belly. He stepped falsely and then caught his uncle off guard with two well timed blows that he blocked with his quick hands.

“That’s it,” Jamie encouraged. “Get angry with me.” He moved in on his nephew who dodged one blow, spun out from another before knocking into his back hard with his shoulder. “That’s it!” Jamie cried as he stumbled forward. “You know my sister tells me you’re more like you’re father every day.”

“And what do you think?” He let the tip of his sword fall limply into the dirt. His expression was still one twisted into anger but now hurt lingered behind his eyes as well. He could stand for his mother hating him, and maybe even his father. His uncles, however, had been his only safe place to retreat. It might be too much to think that this one in particular might look at him with the same emerald green eyes that his twin looked at him with. Filled with hatred. Filled with resentment.

Jamie’s expression softened, and he sheathed his sword into it’s scabbard. Lessons were clearly over for the day and now he had to play the part of uncle rather than sword master. Luckily for Lyan, it was a role that his uncle Jamie did not mind playing for him. Placing a hand on Lyan’s shoulder he said, “I think you’re already a better man than your father ever was.” He squeezed the swell of his muscle and pulled him in tighter to him. “And don’t tell your mother I told you this,” he whispered. “But I think you’ll make a great King.”

“I don’t know that I want to be King.” Lyan answered.

“And that,” his uncle began, laughing as he regarded him with a queer, incredulous expression. “Is exactly why you must be.”




“Lyan!”

He had been walking back towards the castle from the yard, heading in the direction of the Hand’s Tower, when he had stumbled on his younger siblings playing with the other children in the gardens. The first to spot him was of course his younger sister Myrcella. She called out to him before bounding towards him, her long hair following behind her like a golden, glimmering cape. At the sight of her happy face, for the first time in days, a true and genuine smile broke out across his previously stoney expression. It stretched broad like a crescent moon, covering half his face.

“Hello, Princess.” He cooed, scooping her up and into his arms. She curled a thin arm around his neck as he placed her against his hip. In her hand she clutched a doll spun from dried tweed. “What’s this?” He asked, gesturing to it.

“I made it.” She explained proudly.

“You made it?” He repeated. “No… you made this?” He teased.

“I did so!” She declared. “I only just finished it this morning.”

“Beautiful and talented? By the mother Myrcella, is there anything you can’t do? You’ll have to make me one as well.”

“I’ll make you a knight.” She looked at him with the wide and adoring eyes that a sister ought to look at her brother with. Her eyes spoke of the same kind of love that Tommen’s did. They admired him and looked up to him, and for them he attempted to keep the peace between their parents. It was unfathomable how they could love him so, and yet Joffrey could barely bring himself to stand in his elder brother’s company.

“That would be wonderful.” He answered sweetly.

“Take your hands off her,” came a biting voice. She emerged from the gardens clad in a dress of greens that matched her eyes. “I’ll not have you staining my daughter with your filthy hands.”

“Mother?” Myrcella asked, confused.

“Why don’t you go play with the other children?” Lyan suggested, setting her down. “I need to speak alone with Mother.”

“But… When will you come back?” Myrcella asked, still clinging to his tunic. She looked between her brother and mother, confusion wracking her small features. She was not yet old enough to understand the games her protectors played, but she was a clever girl and it wouldn’t be long before she began to see it.

“I’ll come read you a story tonight, would you like that? Alright, now go.” He said gently. He laid a kiss on the top of her head and then sent her off. She scurried on light feet to her Septa and joined the other noble-born children in the garden. Lyan watched her leave before turning to the Queen. “That was unkind. I understand you might dislike me presently but Myrcella—”

“Is young and naive,” she barked, interrupting him. “But eventually she’ll see you for what you are. Just the same as I do.” His mother said to him coolly. Her hands were folded in her sleeves, around her neck she wore gold jewelry that matched the belt that cinched her waist.

“If you don’t want me fucking whores then why send them to my chambers?” He demanded. He was frustrated and angry but also dreadfully confused. The games his mother concocted had always been lost on him. At one time he had thought that made him simple of mind, but lately he thought that perhaps it might make him more honourable than the lot. House of Lions, more like a den of snakes. “What are you playing at? What is it that you hope to achieve by exposing me as my father’s son? Is it to prove to everyone else that I’ll be an awful King like him? Or maybe you see the monstrosity in hating your own son and are trying to justify it?”

She slapped him. She slapped him hard. The rings that decorated her thin fingers left red marks upon his cheek. It was a blow that stung, but it didn’t bruise him nearly so much as the look in her eyes did. He had endured far more severe wounds of the flesh. As for the pain inflicted upon his heart, he had coated himself in thick armour long ago to shield from her biting words and cutting glances. From the first moment that she had sneered at him and called him wretched, he had understood that she would never love him the way she loved her other children. When he was younger his guard had caught him with a knife in the stables, cutting off his hair. At the tender age of ten, he had believed his dark hair to be the cause of his misfortunes. He had believed that maybe if he had golden hair like his mother she might love him better. Now he understood that he could have a golden face and she would still spit in it.

“So that’s it then?” He asked, attempting to mask the croak in his throat. “I’ll be punished for my father’s crimes as long as I live, won’t I?” She didn’t answer him. She only stared at him with those same eyes. He reached for the hand she had slapped him with and stooped to lay a kiss upon it. He brushed his thumb across the place where his lips had touched. “He might not love you, but I do.” He said quietly as he released her hand, letting it fall back to her side.

“Get out of my sight.” She hissed.

And so, he did.

King Kade - Reigning from the North


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Offline asterin

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She had just stepped out of the cramped basin and drawn a ragged cloth about her dripping body when the door flew open to reveal a certain redhead. “Ruwena!” she let out a startled laugh, though it didn’t affect her languid movements as she wrung out her long black hair. “I’d been thinking of you, and here you are.” Ruwena’s face crinkled into a warm, broad smile as she closed the door behind her and hurried to her side.

“Lady Sansa is taking some lessons from the Septas. I got permission to visit you.” If the whore-turned-lady had looked happy the day before, her complexion had only grown brighter, which Esen was glad to see. After enduring hardships, she was sure that Ruwena deserved every content moment she got. Her thoughts were disturbed as Ruwena sidled closer to her, smiling suggestively. “So?” the red haired woman asked, gazing expectantly at her.

“So, what?” Esen chimed back mischievously, a smile quirking her lips.

“Oh, you know what I mean!” bubbled Ruwena, hovering over her. She took up another piece of cloth and began to towel the other girl's hair dry, clucking in a motherly manner. This took Esen by surprise, but she did not flinch away, taking the chance to finish wiping the rest of the moisture from her body.

“You gossipy old hen, you’re a lady now! Isn’t it improper for ladies to gossip?” she teased, to which Ruwena let out a loud laugh. She felt that strangely warm feeling in her gut again—it was like it had been ages since she’d been in her lively company.

“You should hear what these so called ‘proper ladies’ talk about while emptying chamber pots!” she chuckled, busily working away at her hair. “They sound like old housewives.”

“Anything good?”

“By the good mother, Nasira, there is! Rumor has it that….” the redhead trailed off, pinching the other girl’s side. “You sneaky thing, you! You almost got me. Trying to dodge the questions,” she waggled a finger at her, to which Esen laughed sheepishly.

“You can’t blame me for trying.” She shrugged, riffling through her belongings to take out a fresh shift and a plain dress. “So what d’you want to know, Lady Ruwena?”

“Everything!” she nodded eagerly, her curls bouncing yes along with her. “I mean, I’ve slept with his Majesty several times before, but the tales always vary.”

Luckily, it was a rare moment where none of the other whores were in the room with them. “Actually,” Esen paused, hooking her dress into place. “Actually, I was sent to the prince instead.” She kept the disappointment from her voice—most whores would probably prefer a strapping young man instead of a fat, drunken old one.

“Oh! Oh Nasira, does that mean…?” Ruwena seemed more shocked than Esen had expected her to be, and she fixed the redhead with a puzzled look as she took her hands with…excitement? What was there to be excited about?

“What?” she uttered, her voice mixed with confused humor. “What are you talking about?”

“Does this mean you’ll be a lady too?” Ruwena blurted out, her eyes dancing as she let out a barely restrained squeal of thrill. “Oh Nasira, I was hoping! Are you to be with the Stark’s household? Mother, that would be wonderful—oh, you’ll love Lady Sansa, and Lady Arya too! She’s a spirited one, you’d get along so well! And—” Her exuberant words came to an abrupt stop as she realized that the dark haired woman’s expression was one of confusion and not shared enthusiasm.

“No, Ruwena,” Esen patted the girl’s hand gently, even though she sounded as if she was jesting. “I’m still just Nasira.” The redhead’s face fell, disappointment heavy on her features before they gave way to an apologetic expression.

“I-I’m so sorry, Nasira. I thought…” the girl worried away at her bottom lip, wringing her hands in distress.

“Come now, what are the chances of such a thing happening again?” Esen quipped, trying to make light of the situation. Such a look didn’t suit the merry redhead.

“No, it’s just that…all the new female servants of the Stark household…we all have the same tale. All four of us were whores sent to Prince Lyan, and he, bless his Grace, gave us these new positions.” Her tone gave away the reverence and gratitude she felt for the young princeling, and Esen found herself blinking. She remembered Littlefinger telling her the night before that he had been turning whores away—four of them, he’d mentioned, and they had been ‘regifted.’ And indeed he had attempted to turn her away as well.

“I see,” she said impassively, lost in her thoughts. It was…bizarre, all in all. She couldn’t quite comprehend his motives for doing such a thing. Unless…these women were no doubt completely indebted to him—had he wanted loyal spies in the Stark household? A shrewd tactic.

“Nasira?” Ruwena called, seemingly anxious about her lack of emotion. Yes, now wasn’t the time for such contemplations.

“I see,” she repeated, this time in a more animated manner. “Well, I guess I didn’t give him much of a chance to speak,” she winked at the other woman, who laughed, amazed.

“You seduced him?” she whispered, a saucy grin on her face. “Nasira, you must have some tricks up that sleeve of yours! He was like a fortress! I thought he was positively immune!”

“Well, not exactly,” Esen whispered back wryly. “It’s in my best interests that dear Lord Baelish believes I did, however.” She wasn’t quite sure why she was letting Ruwena know the truth of the matter—through implications or not, it was dangerous knowledge.

Ruwena’s lips formed an incredulous ‘o’, giving her a little push of disbelief. “You did not!” she exclaimed, but quickly dropped her volume back into a murmur. “Well, my lips are sealed, Nasira.” she promised conspiringly, a little twinkle in her big eyes. “Friends keep secrets.”

Esen could not help another slow blink at the word friends. The young woman recovered swiftly, however, and mirrored Ruwena’s secretive smile. “I’ll hold you to it.”  

The two fell into a comfortable silence, sitting on the hard pallet they had shared merely a few nights ago. When the silence was broken, it was Ruwena once more, voice soft and halting. “But, wouldn’t you rather be a lady, Nasira?” Esen turned her gaze to the redhead. There were truly few who chose the profession of their own volition. It was generally out of desperate need for coin than want.

“No,” she answered, earning a slow nod from Ruwena. “I don’t think I was meant to ever be a lady,” she offered her a lopsided smile. “Some people are born to be something, while others are raised to be something,” she glanced at the girl sitting next to her, decked out in a modest dress of blue. It suited her. She looked more beautiful in it than any of the revealing gowns she had worn before. “You might have been raised to be a whore, but you were born to be a lady. I’m sure of it.”

“Nasira, you and your silver tongue,” Ruwena chortled, though she placed a hand over the dark haired girl’s. “And what of you?” she prompted softly, something a bit sad in her round eyes.

She had been raised to be an assassin, and there was no doubt in her mind that she had been born to answer death’s call as well. To be a flawless weapon. Softness and warmth had been cut out of her before she knew what it even tasted like, and now she knew not where to find it in herself. “This is how it should be,” she said simply, her eyes like stone. She glanced at the angle of the sunlight coming through the thin slats that pretended to be windows. “I think you’d better return to Lady Sansa,” she told Ruwena, though her words were not unkind. “I’m sure she’s missing you by now.”

With a warm hug and a promise to see her soon, bouncing girl and bouncing curls left the room, leaving her with a unusually heavy silence. She brushed it off and busied herself, sweeping out into the halls to explore the Keep once more. And when night fell and two whores were called away at the same time for the Usurper, she was not one of them. She watched Alana and Velia go, sucking in a tight breath.

Patience. She told herself over and over again, surely my turn will come. But even the next night, she was not called for. And when Littlefinger finally came for her the following night, with that look in his eyes, it was not the Usurper’s bed she was called away to.
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Offline Reigning King

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“But what if they come while I sleep?” Myrcella whined. She lay in her bed, a candle lit on the table beside her. She was surrounded by dolls and toys to keep her company while she slept but she had spent the last half hour attempting to convince her eldest brother to stay in their stead. Often when the little Princess awoke in the middle of the night, shaken from a nightmare, it was Septa Eglantine who came to her bedside. In more extreme cases she might call for her mother herself. In recent years however, Myrcella had begun to throw fits if her brother did not see her off to a safe and care-free sleep. Though the Queen liked to say that this was because the young man had tricked her into thinking him a protector, Lyan suspected that it was more to do with the more horrific stories that Joffrey told her the older he got. Tonight, it was the Frost Giants.

“My sweet sister, how do you expect that giants made from snow could survive a trek all the way from the Wall to the furthest reaches of the south?” He asked her. In his hast to reach her bedside he had slipped into a pair of ill-fitting brown trousers and a jerkin that did not match his signature red, fur-lined robe. His boots were undone, his hair in a state of disarray. He had been safely locked away inside his study when she had called for him.

“I don’t know…” She cooed childishly. She played with the sleeves of his robe, plucking the hairs from the fur pelt one by one with her small hands.

“Do you remember your lessons?” He asked her suddenly.

“My lessons?” She repeated, wrinkling her expression into one of displeasure. The last thing she likely wanted to do was review her lessons.

“Who guards the North?” he asked.

“The… the Starks!” She said proudly, the smile on her face suggesting her certainty in the answer.

“Very good, Myrcella, yes.” He praised, tapping her upon the nose, inspiring her to giggle. “And who helped your father win the throne from the mad King?” He asked, tickling her sides and pulling a funny voice as he said mad King, an attempt to avoid any further unpleasant thoughts.

“The Starks!” She answered back, still laughing from the tickles.

“And who is Hand of the King?” He asked.

“Lord Stark.” She answered. She was nodding now, her clever mind already jumping to the lesson before Lyan had finished teaching it.

“You see? Such men would never let the Frost Giants anywhere near Kings Landing. We even have a Stark here in the Red Keep.” He explained gently.

“I suppose you’re right.” She sighed.

“And besides, if any Frost Giants tried to get you, I’d cut off their fingers and use them to cool your lemonade.” He added, seizing her hand and making as though he would bite off her fingers.

“Ew! Lyan!” She squealed, giggling.

“Now, little Princess, will you sleep?” He asked hopefully.

“Fine.” She conceded. “May I have a song first Septa?” She asked, eyes looking past Lyan to the aging woman who stood with folded hands in the corner of the room.

“Ah-ah. Manners, Princess.” Lyan corrected.

“May I have a song first please Septa?” She repeated.

“Of course, sweet girl.” The Septa answered, shooting a grateful look to the Prince who was now rising from her bedside. As he stood, she came to take his place in the chair where he was previously sitting. He bent down to give her one final kiss on the forehead before moving towards the heavy wooden door that barred her against Frost Giants, and all other manner of horror.

“Goodnight, Myrcella.” He said from the doorway.

“Goodnight, Lyan.” She called back.

With a smile painted on his face he stepped out of the room, closing the door behind him. As he looked up from the door to begin his journey back to his own chambers, his smile fell. Standing before him with her arms crossed over her chest, was the Queen. She wore her nighttime robes, her hair undone and hanging without braid or decoration down her back. By the glow of the torches she looked the part of a lioness, her mouth pulled taut in anger.

“What?” he asked, exasperated. “What, now?”

“Don’t take that tone with me.” She snapped. “What lies did you whisper into that darling girl’s ear? What vile teachings must I now undo? Hm?” She demanded.

“If you’d like to tell her that Frost Giants are indeed real and coming for her then by all means, mother, have at it.” He began, gesturing to her doors.

“Frost Giants?” She repeated.

“Yes.” He confirmed, tiredly. “Frost Giants. It would seem that Joffrey brought back stories from the North and has been telling them to our little sister over supper to scare her.”

“Joff wouldn’t do that.” She replied immediately.

“Oh, wouldn’t he?” Now it was his turn to snap.

“You’re sending away whores again.” She began suddenly. It was a classic tactic for his mother to use against him. When she had talked her way into a corner she would change the subject in order to beat her way back out of it again. “Vayon Poole’s girls gain two new handmaidens and your father brings in more sluts to take their place. They crowd my halls, everywhere I look I see the face of a woman your father has fucked and—”

“And whose fault is that?” He retorted sharply. In recent days his mother’s cruelty had grown more fierce and in return so too had Lyan. He might indeed be a stag of house Baratheon but this lioness of Lannister had given birth to a cub. Now it was his turn to bear his teeth.

For once, she didn’t have a response for him. She stared at him with rage burning in the forests of her eyes but also, what appeared to be a hint of respect. It was so rare for him to raise his voice with her but lately she had been inspiring in him a true fury that he had not known to be there before. They had called him the Baratheon Doe, once. So gentle and kind that he mustn’t have antlers at all, or a cock to swing at the whores they threw at him. They would whisper different things now. Lyan Baratheon had had just about enough abuse from his feral parents and their games of chess, where the people were the pawns and the blows to the pride.

“Goodnight, mother.” He said, bowing to her shallowly before brushing past her and making for his own chambers.

When he finally reached the door to his chamber he was grateful. The night was yet still young and there would be more than enough wax left in his candles to finish the documents he had been attempting to finish for the last several days. If everything could be done just right, he might not even need the support of his father at all. It would enrage him, certainly, for his son to attempt to govern the Realm quietly beneath his nose. However the tournament would take place later on that very week, and he would be much to distracted to take notice. That was what Lyan hoped at least.

“Seven Hells…”

Standing in the middle of his room, awaiting him, was Nasira. He had been wondering how long it would be before she was sent to him once again. Two others had been sent after her and then subsequently sent away again a moment later. From what Lord Baelish had likely heard from this girl’s mouth she had been the only one successful in besmirching the Prince’s honour. Tonight however, she had once again caught the Prince in a foul mood. This time, he would not be overwhelmed by her or tricked into her seductions.

“Tonight of all night’s I…” He stopped, recognising the angry tone in his voice. In an effort to expel his frustrations by other means he slammed closed the door to his chambers. “I expect you have been sent with similar threats from Lord Baelish as last time?” There was an irritation bubbling in his voice, but it was not caused by the young woman before him. Surrendering to the weight of his emotional fatigue he sighed and raked his fingers through his black locks which were in need of a trimming.

“Please,” he offered, extending a gesturing hand to a comfortable chair. Once she was seated he took his own place in the chair adjacent to it. He had to make this exchange quick if he was to complete his work tonight. “Do you like children?” He asked.

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Offline asterin

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“I believed I had done as my Lord Baelish had requested,” Esen said, her lips pressed thin as she reluctantly trailed after the man. Her frustration was mounting to become rather palpable in her tone. “I don’t understand—” Littlefinger turned abruptly, his sharp little smile firmly in place.

“What you don’t understand, dear lass,” he hissed into her ear, “Is your own job description. Now I recall that I told you this very piece of wisdom last time we were walking down this hall—whores don’t get to choose who they spread their legs for. I didn’t think those pretty little ears were for show.” Esen stared hard into his grey-green eyes. The fact that she could kill him idly passed by her mind; oh, she so easily could. Mortal lives were little more than candles in the wind. Once he was dead…well, he couldn’t interfere. Her fingers balled into fist in her skirts, but she forced herself to tear her defiant gaze away and downwards. She was not some rabid monster that chose to behave recklessly—no, she had been crafted carefully, as any fine weapon had been. One false step and everything could be for naught.

Satisfied with her silence, he turned and continued down the corridor. “Truly, I would not take you to him for no reason,” he said, sounding a tad irritated with her. He did not have to look back to know she was silently asking his reason. Arriving at the wooden door, he gave her another sour smile. “But those experienced on the battle field and pleasure will often tell you of the same tactic. A weak spot will always be a weak spot.” On that pleasant note, he opened the door and all but shoved her inside.

The door closed behind her and it wasn’t long before the assassin realized that there was no one else inside. It seemed that the princeling had stepped out somewhere. Heaving out a sigh of frustration, she glared murderously at the door. That damned man. Perhaps killing him would not be a stupid decision, but she had a feeling that once Littlefinger was gone, there was a good chance that the Queen herself would flush out the whores in the Keep, even if it was temporary. There were many pieces on the board, even if she was playing a game none knew of.

She had not had much of a choice when she had complied before, but being the only whore to have apparently mounted the prince’s defenses had come with its own backlash. According to Ruwena, the princeling had a habit of turning the whores he was sent into ladies, and Esen had not missed the fact that Alessa and Bess had not returned to their shared room. Were they tending to their new charges right now, tucking little noble girls into their feather beds? Esen would have been pleased that the odds were in her favor with fewer whores, but even that had been taken from her, for that very morning, a cartful of fresh new whores had arrived.

Her movements were angry as she stalked to and fro in the room, feeling like a cat stuck in a heated cage. She turned and her gaze fell on the desk inside the study, and the mess of papers on top of it. This was an excellent time for some recon; she chided herself for letting her frustration cloud her thoughts. She went to the desk and discreetly flipped through the parchments, her eyes skimming the contents quickly. Her brows furrowed. This was…

She stilled as her ears picked up what could be faint footsteps. Rearranging the documents to their original disarray she swiftly returned to her spot in the middle of the room, managing to run a hand through her hair before the door creaked open. He prince, however, had obviously not been expecting her presence, and he swore aloud.

“Tonight of all nights I…” he started, an angry current in his voice. Esen could have agreed with him—she too wished she was not standing in his chambers. He slammed the door shut a bit forcefully. Was he always this foul of mood, she wondered—Ruwena had made him sound like a knight in shining armor. She did not answer when he asked if Littlefinger had made threats this time as well; it had not sounded like he was truly asking. What difference did it make? Baelish did not have to give voice to the threats. Esen knew of all the possible things that could go wrong and compromise her mission—it was like dodging traps set on every inch of her path.

Sighing, he gestured her to sit, and she did, watching him attentively. He too took a seat, and wearily asked her if she liked children. There it was. She had expected it to come sooner or later, but it was not one she could easily answer. “Children have very little to do with my line of work, m’lord,” she replied, trying to keep herself from sounding aggravated. In truth, she knew absolutely nothing of child rearing. Many women cooed and fawned over babes and children, but she was not one of them. Tender affection was foreign, forbidden. Someone like Ruwena was well-suited for the task, but what did an assassin know of lullabies and girlish games?

The young woman felt as though she was treading treacherous grounds. If he made her a handmaiden, she would of course no longer be a whore, which would make her mission considerably more difficult. If she offended him enough for him to chase her away, it would also not bode too well for her due to pesky Littlefinger. It was all a gamble, and she would strike first.

“M’lord, I have heard of your kindnesses to my fellow girls,” she spoke before he could dare tell her she was to be the new handmaiden to this or that noble girl. “They are truly grateful and laud you for being their savior. But—” she leant forward, her amber eyes flickering in the candlelight, “I am not like them. I do not need to be saved, m’lord.” She let out an easy laugh, as if she found the idea amusing. “Is it so difficult to believe that one is content in their profession?” She had never once questioned her life as an assassin. It wasn’t a matter of being happy or unhappy to her—it simply was what she was. Molded, crafted, designed.

“Besides, does not Your Grace have a more important thing to save? Like the Realm, perhaps?” she cocked her head to one side inquisitively, looking at him through her thick, dark lashes. It was obviously a subject he put a lot of time towards, and she hoped it would sway his attention away from ruining her plans. She had seen his documents. Though she did not think he was the hero he might fancy himself to be, his work was based on a solid knowledge of commerce and trade—it would make an effective plan. But effectiveness and intelligence all too often went hand in hand with a corrupt heart, in her experience. Perhaps they had been wrong to think that the Usurper was the greatest threat in the Red Keep.
.。*゚+.*.。bury me in the stars +..。*゚☾+