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The Sealord’s Menagerie

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Nearly a moon passed, a moon in which the tidings of troubles between Lys and Pentos grew darker—reports of skirmishes off the Stepstones, of ships seized at harbor and charged onerous duties on vague pretenses, of emissaries departing the respective cities with angry words—and a moon in which two embassies, from Sunspear and King’s Landing, found themselves waiting the Sealord’s pleasure. They did not do so idly, by all accounts: Ser Perrin Blackmont was seen each and every day trying to work his way through layers of minor officials, on the behalf of the prince from Dorne, while it’s said Ser Rance Hayford had attempted a friendship with the Sealord’s First Sword, to indifferent effect (and a new scar after a vigorous sparring match) on behalf of Prince Aegon Targaryen. That prince had, for the most part, kept away from such efforts: he left it to the likes of Hayford and Lord Bracken to deal with arranging their audience with the Sealord, while he himself indulged himself in the pleasures of Braavos, which pleasures seemed to center about the brothels of the city.

It cannot be said the Dornish prince, Rhodry Nymeros Martell, appeared any more chaste than his counterpart, but unlike Prince Aegon, the infamous prince seemed to try to have a hand in the Dornish embassies efforts to be met by the Sealord. Once or twice he accompanied Ser Perrin, and it was said that he made invitations to certain officials to dine with him.

In the end, though, it was a whim that decided matters, or so it seemed: the Sealord’s whim. One day missives went out to the manses in which the emissaries stayed, carried by the purple-liveried servants of the Sealord’s Palace, summoning them before him… but on different days, and it was the Targaryen embassy from the Seven Kingdoms that would meet him first. If the Dornishmen raged over this, none can truly say, other than noting that Prince Rhodry was not seen out that evening, as was his wont.

The audiences were a formality, brief, and no one could make of the Sealord’s demeanor any sign that he favored one over the other. Both were welcomed and greeted before the court, both were given a few modest gifts in return for those they brought to him, both were invited to examine his menagerie, filled with creatures from distant lands. It was during this last visit that each had the opportunity to speak more privately to the Sealord. And then… and then that was that: they were ushered away. But now that they have formally been presented, it is sure that they will haunt the palace’s chambers more often, and be present at the Sealord’s dinners, and perhaps at last hold more audiences with him, or at least greater officers of the court as each side attempts to sway Braavos towards its cause and against that of its rival.

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