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Westeros

The King’s Mistress

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Since his coronation a fortnight earlier, King Aegon, Fourth of his Name, has taken to being king with an alacrity that surprised few. Yet, unlike his late father, he has not done so by issuing a wave of edicts and beginning measures to change laws, correct injustices, or strengthen ties across the narrow sea. While it is true that he named Lord Bracken as his Hand as his first official act, the expected changes to the small council have—to the surprise of some—not yet happened, and all because both the king and the Hand seem entirely focused on the pressing matters of the Hand’s forthcoming tourney ... and of rumors of the king taking part in a royal progress—a thing eschewed by every king since his name sake, Aegon Dragonsbane—to show his majesty to the realm. It is said he would first visit the riverlands, with a sojourn at the Stone Hedge.

Other things have occupied the king: the Hand’s daughter, for example. Once a companion to the princesses in the Maidenvault, it is clear that the king’s interest in her has been long-running as well as thorough. She appears now at his side more often than Queen Naerys (in confinement due to a pregnancy that the maesters all judge as dangerous) and has been lavished with jewels and gowns. In turn, Lady Barba has advised the king on a new crown that will be even grander and more regal that the crown of King Aenys, she has gathered her own ladies-in-waiting, and has even begun to host guests at the Tower of the Hand for her father… and at Maegor’s Holdfast, with the king. More shockingly, there are whispers that the king’s interest has been heightened by the fact that Lady Barba is with child, and that the king intends to announce the matter at the Hand’s tourney, at the same time that he hopes some worthy will crown her Queen of Love and Beauty—a knight of the Kingsguard, perhaps, or some one of the new favorites in the king’s orbit.

And so the small council continues as it has been, though their mood is said to be uneasy by the new king’s lack of interest—at least in these early times—in the running of the realm, allowing the Hand to guide the meetings. This has created its own tensions. When the king does not attend, sometimes Prince Daeron does so, and he has helped to steer discussion to pressing issues, but more often than not they are left to report on the preparations for the tourney and the progress.

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