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The Queen’s Return


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As the weeks and moons have passed, the court of King’s Landing was heartened as Queen Naerys recovered from her harrowing delivery. Having been much-missed, especially by those ladies and lords who had piously remembered her in their prayers to the Seven. Chief of all these were her brother Prince Aemon, and her son Prince Daeron, who with his wife Princess Mariah of Dorne had been often at her bedside to read from _The Seven-Pointed Star_ or to bring her grandsons to her so that they might cheer her. When at last Princess Naerys was strong enough to leave her chambers to walk in the fresh air as the maesters urged her, the Prince of Dragonstone was there with her, holding her arm; such was a son’s devotion.

But not a husband’s. Besotted with Missy Blackwood, uncaring of his sister and queen’s slow struggle to recover, King Aegon, the Fourth of his Name, seemed surprised on the day he stumbled across the queen walking with Prince Daeron, Princess Mariah, and various attendants in one of the Red Keep’s gardens. On his own arm was the Lady Mysella, young and fresh and beautiful. The new royal mistress offered a deep curtsy to the queen, and offered happy words at the queen’s recovery, but Aegon was less gracious. “Still alive, sister?” he asked, and the tones of exasperation in his voice could not be mistaken. “Oh, how the gods must _love_ you.” Naerys’s face was a mask at that, but she bowed her head to her husband and said nothing with the grace of someone who had suffered his venom before. Prince Daeron, on the other hand, responded for her: “They do love the queen, your grace. The Mother, most of all, for the queen has spent her life’s blood to bring you heirs. You’ll recall, all the bells of the city rang at my sister’s birth.”

It’s said that the king’s expression curdled at his son’s words, but before he could respond Missy Blackwood intervened, whispering in his ear with a giggle, and whatever she said mollified the king. “We’ll see,” were his last words to his son, or perhaps to his queen, or mayhaps Missy before he went on. (Many would remark afterward that it was just as well the Dragonknight had not been present, for the situation might have devolved further.) The rest of the day went without incident… although that evening, to the surprise of many, Missy Blackwood paid a call on the queen alone, and the next morning approached Prince Daeron and Princess Mariah. In the days and weeks that followed, the courtiers began to realize that despite her place as mistress, the young Blackwood lady had somehow begun to form a friendship with the queen and her son, seemingly embarrassed at her lover’s behavior. Some thought this very clever of her, to secure herself, but others wondered if it was not genuine.

What the king thought of that is unclear… but after months of largely seeming satisfied in his new mistress and holding back from clashing with Prince Daeron, matters have changed. It began in the small council, where it was said that the king began to grow more truculent at whatever Prince Daeron said, but began to spill into open court. He picked at one scab in particular: Dorne, the land of Princess Mariah’s birth, the land where the beloved King Daeron, the Young Dragon, had died. Questions of exchanges of gifts between Dorne and the Seven Kingdoms would be contentious, suggestions that efforts could be made to improve trade with Dorne by devoting effort to improving roads leading to the passes would lead to curses, and efforts for members of the Dornish contingent of court to take part in the king’s courtly festivities and frolics became more and more rejected. When word of this reached Sunspear, and word of the response of that court arrived—including a letter for King Aegon from Prince Maron, attempting to soothe whatever this fit of temperament was—it only made Aegon dig in his heels and grow more truculent.

When Prince Daeron and Princess Mariah took the opportunity at a feast to announce that the Dornish princess was once again with child, the court cheered them and toasted them with summerwine. Except, some noticed, King Aegon; he did not drink at all. When he remarked that he hoped the child that she squeezed out was not so dark as her firstborn, it was a remark made to Missy Blackwood at his side… but loudly enough that the prince and princess could not help but hear it. The next day, new whispers began: Prince Daeron had begun to talk of moving his household to Dragonstone, his seat as heir to the Iron Throne. Soon it was not just whispers, as Princess Mariah began to inform her ladies which of them would come with her and which would be asked to remain in King’s Landing to represent her. Why the sudden putting of plans into motion? When one of his friends at court asked, Prince Daeron pointed out that it had been long since a Targaryen prince had been born on Dragonstone, and it was about time that changed.

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