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Faith No More

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There are those who say that King Baelor has asked Grand Maester Clement to convince the Citadel that doves would be as reliable as ravens, and more pleasing to the gods beside, and the Grand Maester has dutifully experimented. From the drum tower of the Grand Maester, ravens still fly… but sometimes, too, white doves beat their wings to race away bearing messages (some have found their way to stoop on eaves and roofs of the city below Aegon’s High Hill, their messages apparently not so urgent; and a few besides have found their way into bowls of brown in Flea Bottom.) Still, the Grand Maester tries.

These are not the only changes wrought in the realm by the septon-king. Whores are still outlawed in King’s Landing, and so too are the poisons that some hedge wizards and woods witches use for evil ends. And still, the king’s great concern for the virtue and piety of the city remains, and his efforts to safeguard them grow more extreme. Courtiers say the king has spoken long with the High Septon, and has been seen praying most devoutly to the Mother and the Maiden in the royal sept, and now there are whispers that in the chambers of the small council the king speaks of being told by the gods that there is too much fornication in the realm, against the will of the Seven. And so he has begun to prepare a new edict—against protest from the master of coin, Beron Buckwell, it’s whispered—that would lift all taxation from men with maiden daughters… provided they were to fit their daughters with chastity belts until the day they wed.

For now, it is only a thought of the king, and he may well be dissuaded; the Grand Maester has joined Buckwell in speaking against it, for one, letting the king know that such contraptions risk causing serious harm to the womanly parts of the maidens so constrained. But that is a policy for the realm entire, and the king is known to at least sometimes heed his councillors despite the voices of the Seven in his ears. Policy for his city, however, is quite another matter. And so the latest gossip runs rampant through the halls and yards of the Red Keep: fewer and fewer are the maidens brought to court ever since Baelor assumed the crown… and now it seems that those who are present will be required to regularly prove their continuing maidenhood, examined by holy septas chosen by the High Septon.

Already the princesses in the Maidenvault have been examined. Though the king had no doubts as to their chastity, he felt it seemly that if his rule was good for the daughters of his knights and lords, so too must it be good for his own sisters and their companions. And now, they say, the septas approach the king’s guests and courtiers with maiden daughters, sisters, or other kinswomen at court, to arrange matters.

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