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A Troubling Birth


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In the heart of the realm, the royal city of King’s Landing, a strange omen (or not, depending on how you ask) has come to pass. Missy Blackwood, the royal mistress to King Aegon IV, has given birth to a son, whom she named Brynden. However, joy was tempered by the babe’s fragile health—an albino with a conspicuous red birthmark across his cheek. His two elder sisters were both more robust at birth and thrived.

Maesters express doubts about his longevity, citing his feeble constitution. Despite this, Lady Melissa is resolute in her determination to nurture him. She has been frequently seen in the godswood of the Red Keep, seeking solace or divine intervention for the well-being of her ailing child. To add to her pleas, Queen Naerys and Prince Aemon have been known to light candles for the child in the royal sept, further proof of their liking for the king’s mistress.

Meanwhile, King Aegon, seemingly unconcerned by the precarious state of his illegitimate son, forges ahead with the planning of a grand tournament. If rumors are to be believed, the event is to be titled the “Tourney of the Setting Sun,” a not-so-subtle jibe at Dorne in the aftermath of the ill-fated invasion. This, even though Princess Mariah, the king’s good-daughter, is heavily pregnant and on the verge of delivering a fourth child for Prince Daeron, the heir to the throne. The court has largely taken against Dorne and the Dornish, as it is the mood of the king, yet there are those who increasingly adhere to Prince Daeron and Princess Mariah.

A subtle tension simmers within the Red Keep, exacerbated by the strained relationship between King Aegon and Prince Daeron. The king’s apparent lack of concern for his weakened offspring, coupled with his preoccupation with various vices, has shifted the burden of governance to the small council. Disagreements are said to be rife among its members, particularly between Lord Bracken, the Hand, and Prince Daeron, the Prince of Dragonstone.

The lack of communication between the king and his heir leaves the court in a state of uncertainty, and there are rumors that at times the king muses of sending some of his councillors to certain of the Free Cities in an attempt to make an alliance to rival that which Prince Maron of Dorne concluded with the Sealord of Braavos. Merchants from Pentos have of late—ever since news of the embassy of the Sealord to Dorne—left lavish gifts to the king, on behalf of the magisters and the Prince of Pentos, and it’s said they hope that finding a fracture between Dorne and the Iron Throne and widening it might advance their own interests in the narrow sea.

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