Please note: All characters, locations and events are copyright George RR Martin and the events that take place during this tale can and will deviate from series canon.
The Story So Far: It is Year 296 since Aegon’s Landing. Two minor Houses have come into contention: House Luxon, sworn to the Starks of Winterfell, and House Mortmund, sworn to the Lannisters of Casterly Rock. A savage turn of events and a tireless pursuit has revealed that Lord Mortmund had employed a Faceless Man, sent the assassin to slay noble heads of Westeros nobility, while thieves and scavengers collected Valyrian heirloom blades to keep for himself. While the Luxon forces stormed and razed the Mortmund keep, a bastard named Cadmon Storm recovered the blades and killed the Faceless Man. Victor Luxon, son of Lord Goddard, went with the bastard and John Nurem, steward of the House, to King’s Landing. At High Court they presented the blades of House Baratheon to Robert, the First of his Name, King of the Andals, the Rhoynar and the First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms and Protector of the Realm. Following a decree that named Cadmon the trueborn son of Baelor Hightower of Oldtown, the trio proceeded down the Rose Road to Highgarden, continuing to distribute the stolen blades to their rightful owners…
He hated the South. He hated the heat. He hated the moisture. He hated the way the greens and yellows and reds of the feilds assaulted his eyes. He hated the stinging of pollen in his eyes and the way it left dust on his arms and armor. Most of all he hated the false smiles, the courtesies, the bowing and taking of knees and “m’lord” this and “m’lady” that. He missed the North, the biting vibrant cold breezes, the heft of his weapons and the comforting weight of armor on his shoulders.
He pushed John Nurem aside and set about adjusting his clothing himself. The steward bowed and muttered some sort of apology. Spineless toad. Victor appreciated all the merchant-turned-majordomo had done for House Luxon, but more often than not he just got in the way. He looked down at his sleeves, a dark blue fabric slashed to reveal the cloth-of-gold beneath, then tugged at the fine trousers of gray with their silver piping, tucked into polished black boots. The steward swept the ermine half-cloak around his shoulders, the cloth-of-gold lining catching the light from the hearth as Victor fastened the clasp, a golden acorn. Victor reached for his swordbelt and fastened it around his waist as the knock came at the door.
“They’re ready for us.”
“In a moment, Storm,” Victor snapped. He checked the hang and fit of his clothes, thanked the gods that nobody was around to stick him with any more pins, and threw open the door. Cadmon Storm, now recognized as a Hightower, stood just outside, dressed in his own finery, the hilt of the Veracity visible behind his left hip as he tugged on the white leather gloves he wore.
Royal decree or no, the stripling’s Storm to me. “Which way’s the solar?”
Cadmon gestured with a smile. “This way, my lord.”
“Yes, your lord, and don’t you forget it, bastard.” Victor had starting itching already. It was going to be a long afternoon. Despite the powerful stride he adopted to move through Highgarden to Mace Tyrell’s solar, Cadmon had no trouble keeping up. “My father did you a great boon by taking you in, considering you showed up at our gates with naught but a bastard’s name and some pretty words.”
“I’ve proven everything that I’ve said, have I not?” The bastard didn’t stop smiling. A Southron through and through. “We destroyed a potential enemy of not only your House, but the Lannisters as well, and Luxon’s growing in respect with every stolen blade it returns.”
“Just remember it’s Luxon doing it. Not you.”
“I doubt I could forget, considering how you constantly remind me.”
“And keep your distance. I won’t have you interrupting me this time.”
Cadmon placed a gloved hand over his slashed doublet. “Why, Victor, you wound me. I thought you of all people would appreciate the need to cut to the quick.”
“Not in front of the bloody king!” The insult still burned him. He’d been telling the story of how they’d come across the blades, in detail, leaving nothing out. He wanted no secrets before the king. He learned afterward that one of the small council, the pointy-beared whisp of a man everybody called Littlefinger, had started yawning. Cadmon had interrupted, kneeled before the king and laid out the Baratheon blades taken from the serial killer that had lived under the guise of a Lannister bannerman. The delivery had won them reknown throughout the Seven Kingdoms, and a letter from Tywin Lannister himself had called upon Robert to decree Cadmon the trueborn son of Baelor Hightower, but Victor wasn’t about to let the slight go unremarked.
“Just let me do the talking this time.”
“As long as you don’t do too much of it.”
Victor growled. “You try my patience, bastard.”
Cadmon shrugged, his only reply as their quick pace had brought them to the solar. He opened the door for Victor and gestured grandly for him to enter. Cadmon fell into step behind him. Sitting in a comfortable chair with the remnants of his breakfast in front of him, Lord Mace Tyrell, Defender of the Marches, High Marshal of the Reach, Lord of Highgarden and Warden of the South, wiped his hands on a napkin and gestured for them to approach. His daughter Margaery sat nearby, hands folded in her lap and smiling at Renly Baratheon, who sat nearby speaking with her quietly. Nearby, Mace’s son Loras looked on, the embroidery in his fine cloak and worked into the leather of his scabbard unsurprisngly showing various types of flowers. A slender woman with long silver hair and a dignified look smiled as they entered, walking past Victor to place a hand on Cadmon’s shoulder.
“Oh, my brother will be jealous. I get to see how handsome his son is before he even reaches Oldtown.”
“You must be my aunt Alerie.” Cadmon took her hand in his. “I’m so pleased to meet you.”
I’m going to be sick. “Lord Mace, I have no wish to overstay my welcome. May I present you with these blades of House Tyrell, taken from…”
Mace held up a meaty hand. “I did hear tell of most of this tale from my son Loras, and from Renly, when they arrived. May I see the blades?”
Victor knelt and laid out the bundle they’d made of the blades of Tyrell. Loras walked over to look down upon them as Mace leaned toward the opened canvas. He reached down and picked up the broadsword from the bunch, the central feature of its hilt being a golden rose. A matching dagger was beside it, which Ser Loras picked up.
“These were my father’s blades,” Mace said. “They said he’d fallen from a cliff, looking up and not minding where he was going. There was always something odd about that story.”
Victor nodded. “Regardless of how they came to be parted from him, they are now yours once again, Lord Mace.”
“And well I thank you for that. You do good service for your house, Luxon, and for that of your liege lord. I shall not forget it.”
Victor stood, adjusting the leather belt around his waist. He was eager to wrap this up and get into more comfortable clothes. Lord Mace invited his guests to dine with him that evening, which Victor accepted before he left the solar, leaving the bastard to speak with the woman from Oldtown.
“Victor, if I might have a word?”
He turned, to find the well-groomed Renly Baratheon following him into the corridor.
“I apologize for my brother’s brusque nature in King’s Landing. He’s so unflatteringly impatient during high court. You understand.”
“I do.” Victor shifted on his feet. “I took no offense.”
“It simply seemed unfair to extend the potential for knighthood to one such as Cadmon Hightower, and not do you the same courtesy.”
“What are you saying, my lord?”
“If you wished to squire for me, or perhaps Ser Loras, all you have to do is ask. You fought alongside us in the Greyjoy Rebellions. Your quality as a warrior is known. Why not add the reknown, respect and rewards of knighthood? What say you?”
Victor stared to Renly for a long moment. Then, taking a deep breath, he answered.
“I appreciate the offer, my lord, and I would be interested in squiring for a knight, but not for you, nor for Ser Loras.”
Renly blinked. “I beg your pardon? Why ever not?”
“You know why.”
The king’s brother narrowed his eyes. “I am attempting to extend you a courtey and opportunity, ser. You’re letting prejudice blind you.”
“The truly blind are those who still profess to love you while being ignorant of what you really are.”
“And what, exactly, am I?” Renly hand drifted to the hilt of his sword. It was one of the swords Cadmon had brought back from Mortmund’s ruin. Victor scowled and said no more, backing up a step and turning away.
Victor strode back to his quarters with haste, fueled by hatred. Was Renly simply trying to expand his collection of admirers? Victor didn’t think he was Renly’s type. He was burly where Ser Loras was slight, direct in speech where Ser Loras was circumspect. He was of the North, and Ser Loras of the South. Maybe the queer cock doesn’t discriminate, Victor thought bitterly. He slammed the door of the quarters behind him, which earned him a shriek from the bed chamber.
“Did… did it go well?”
The face of his wife poked out from the other room. Victor glared at her as he pulled the golden acorn open and yanked the ermine cloak from his shoulders.
“Lord Mace has kind things to say about House Luxon, now, giving us one less overt enemy in the South.”
“Oh, that must please you!” She moved to help him undress, her fingers slightly clumsier than those of John the house steward. She might have been on the homely side and not terribly bright, but she as at least a woman, and her hands on him working with his clothes didn’t make him so uncomfortable. “Tell me, was Lord Renly there? Or Ser Loras? Oh, he’s so elegant, with his floral armor and his…”
“Yes,” Victor hissed, exasperated. “He was there.”
Jaine giggled. “Oh, forgive me, my lord, he’s just so…”
“I know what he is. You owe me no apology.”
She responded by giggling more, especially when she was helping him out of his breeches. He sighed. Once again, the ship has left the dock with no one on board.
“Shall I help you relax, before we’re feasted by Lord Mace?”
“We have time, yes.” At least it’ll shut you up. Would that I could silence Renly or Ser Loras or that bloody bastard Storm as easily. He resolved not to think on those men any longer, however, as his wife began. Such thoughts would just be strange in this situation.
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