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A Court Blossoms

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<p>Day to day, it is said, King Baelor’s strength grows. The long, long recovery from his fasting in the wake of Princess Naerys’s miscarriage seems nearer to drawing from an end, as he has been seen more often away from his apartments, and the private sept which he most frequents. He has attended services at the royal sept almost daily, now, and though he has yet to sit the Iron Throne in judgement, it is known that he even occasions to join the small council from time to time, though rumors has it that it is Prince Viserys who most often leads the council, save in matters touching on the Faith—including progress on the great sept that Baelor dreamt of, and which even now slowly forms atop the bulk of Visenya’s Hill.</p>

<p>But as it happens, the latest to come from the small council, sealed with the king’s seal, and that of the Hand as well, have been official appointments to a number of offices. Many expected this: it has long been rumored that the Commander of the Sea Watch would never fully recover from the wounds he took when Saan routed his ships at sea during the Rape of Stonedance, that certain other offices under the master of coin were due for changes, that the king required a huntsman to manage the court’s hunts (even if the king himself has never hunted, Prince Aegon is away to Braavos, Princess Daena and her sisters locked in the Maidenvault, and Prince Viserys rarely free to indulge in the sport).</p>

<p>So appointments were made, and announced: Ser Dermett Corbray as the king’s huntsman was notable for some, for it was said that Ser Orson Baratheon had had the support of the former huntsman, the master of horse Ser Janden Melcolm, while Corbray himself found Lord Arryn’s backing. The commander of the Sea Watch as at last relieved of his duties, and given rich gifts from the crown for his loyal service… but to the surprise of many, it was not a man of the Sea Watch who took his place, but Ser Sarmion Baratheon, the Stormbreaker, and of late the royal harbormaster, who was named to his place. It was well-known that Ser Brynden Tully had made a name for himself in the Sea Watch, and many expected Lord Tully’s son to be the favored replacement for the commander.</p>

<p>There are those who whisper that Ser Sarmion’s ambition may well be the cause of his kinsman Ser Orson’s failure to win an office, if the elder Baratheon pressed for the greater post and Storm’s End influence was used to that end. Regardless of the truth, perhaps less surprising was that another Tully—Ser Harstyn Tully—was named harbormaster in Ser Sarmion’s stead. The Tully knight had served under Ser Sarmion as his deputy, so that was no great surprise… but some wondered if that was a price paid for Tully support.</p>

<p>And what of Lord Justyn Serry? It was well-known that he had sought the office that the Stormbreaker now held, had even brought galleys from Southshield to serve with the Sea Watch which he maintained at his own cost. His shrewd wife, ironborn that she is, has been said to have done much to increase the Serry fortunes, expanding trade efforts, and some whisper that she’s done more beside on his behalf. How, then, this failure to take the command of the Sea Watch? That seemed explained not a day after the initial flurry of announcements, when Ser Justyn’s ships transferred their flag to that of the royal fleet, and word began to be put about that he had become assistant to Lord Alyn Velaryon, master of ships and admiral of the royal fleet.</p>

<p>Serry had lately served with Oakenfist in the Stepstones, and it may be that this, too, was a factor. Oakenfist had often avoided having such men about in past days, but perhaps in his age he sees the use of them; and there are those who recall that in times past, assistants would appear to prepare the way for others to carry out his duties when he was contemplating one of his expeditions at sea, journeys in emulation of his far-famed grandfather.</p>

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