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The King’s Retreat


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Queen Naerys lingered still near death, her surviving infant Daenerys was cared for by wetnurses, Lady Barba enjoyed all the king’s favors with her infant son at her breast, and the court continued to fret over the situation. Matters came to a head when rumors ran rife that the Hand, Lady Barba’s father Lord Kennoth, had openly spoken of Barba becoming queen when (not if) Naerys succumbed to the weakness that had gripped her since the delivery of her daughter and her stillborn son. Who was angriest among the great names at court was hard to judge: Prince Aemon the Dragonknight, who had insisted on standing vigil over his sister for almost every hour of every day since her labor, or her son Prince Daeron who had become increasingly truculent towards his royal father in regards to his treatment of the queen as well as his lax approach to ruling.

So when a day came that the king decided to travel in the company of his Hand to the docks to examine a new warship—though everyone knew that he would find his way to the Street of Silk—both princes, the great knight and the Prince of Dragonstone, summoned the small council to their tower to meet. Word ran through the castle of this, and many courtiers, ladies, and knights began surreptitiously to find their way to the Red Keeps outer yards to see who else might join the council and who might leave.

Liveried messengers would be seen coming and going, but for a time no men of greater substance made an appearance to begin with. But then both Lord Arryn and Lord Baratheon entered the tower together, and not an hour passed before the king at least returned from his “inspection”. He seemed to have no inkling of what had gone on, nor did Lord Kennoth, but shortly after they entered Prince Daeron and Prince Aemon appeared in the yard and informed the king and his Hand that there was an urgent matter to deal with with the small council. King Aegon, seeming more than a little drunk, attempted to foist the task on to Lord Bracken, but his famed brother insisted. And so they went.

What transpired, precisely, is not known. Some claim they could hear shouting from the small council chamber, though that seems unlikely as the drum tower’s walls are thick and the small council chamber is well above the ground. But what was known for certain was that when the king left, his face was red from something other than drink, and Lord Kennoth’s expression was pinched. Later that evening, it was made plain that Lady Barba’s rooms in Maegor’s Holdfast were to be emptied, her belongings and her infant son to be made ready for the journey to the Stone Hedge in the riverlands. Gossips among the court’s women would later say that Barba screamed with fury, cursing those who were against her, and even her own father for his inability to dissuade the king from allowing his brother, son, great lords, and councillors to pressure him into giving her up. Yet the king himself saw none of Barba’s outrage, for he refused to see her (though she asked, then begged, then demanded).

Three days later, Lady Barba and her bastard Aegor Rivers were gone, accompanied by a wetnurse, a handful of servants, and a small company of the Hand’s guard. And word spread through the Red Keep that the maesters thought the worst danger was over, and Queen Naerys would recover given rest and time.

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