shelbs
oswin

It is currently WINTER in WESTEROS during the year 303 AC. The new moon cycle marks a full twenty years since the Mad King was murdered, and his son King Rhaegar ascended the Iron Throne in his place. Though the year is fresh, war in the Narrow Sea has been declared on the Stepstones, and the Long Night continues to beckon from the Northern fringes of the Seven Kingdoms. With the Queen Lyanna presumed dead, the citizens of the realms look only to each other for survival.
[x] A new announcement is up, so be sure to read it and age up those characters! Happy new year!
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[x] The Soliloquy of Tyrosh has at last come to its fiery end! Mortal losses have been suffered and life-changing injuries endured, but Westeros prevails! All threads have been moved to The Free Cities forum for completion <3
[x] A new plot update will be following shortly! Get out your winter coats and start chopping some firewood, WINTER IS HERE.
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Alias: Shelbs
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Age: 43
Sworn To: THE IRON THRONE
Born to: house targaryen
Location: KING'S LANDING
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RHAEGAR TARGARYEN

CROWNLANDS [A]

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Oct 28 2017, 03:23 PM
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Fools and flatterers, they surround the melancholy king like hungry bees to a flower. Naturally suspicious but overly sentimental, Rhaegar has always been slow to trust, yet fast to love once one has earned his affection. While all may know of his bonds with his Hand and Lord Commander, there are still others that are close to his bleeding heart, and he never fails to display his fondness for them. Gracious with his friends, loyal to his comrades and unyielding to his enemies, there are many sides to the King of Westeros. Facets dripping with the weight of the world he willingly wears, one can never be sure what mood Rhaegar will wake in, or what pivotal and perhaps even minuscule moment in his day that will sway him into different tempers. Only those who withhold their judgement, who perhaps simply have known him too long or have an endless amount of patience can find themselves in the monarch's inner circle. Those with hearty advice, genuine council and a strong resolve are those he seeks to help manage his reign, even this long after taking the throne.
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Alas, at the same time, it is perhaps all too easy to form an opinion on the moody monarch, and it may even be that some see him as an easy target now that he is without his she-wolf. Those who aspire to whisper foul humors in his ear or bend his grief to their benefit will soon prove to be little but dragon fodder, as it is well known he was called the Silver Prince for one reason and the Dragon Prince for an entirely different one. He would be quick to remind you of the grave mistake it is to interpret sadness for weakness.
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A great patron of the arts, he, too, admires those with the skill to sing and dance, paint and sculpt, poets and writers alike, perhaps because there is a part of him that wishes he could be a simple minstrel or bard alongside them. Deeply inspired when moved, and as well a musician himself, those that share in these similar interests will always find their efforts encouraged, if not supported entirely, by their silver prince. Those that sympathize and share with his love of books and history, well-read and well-cultured individuals might garner a deep discussion with a starry-eyed King who once used to retreat to the ruins of Summerhall for soulful reprieve. Guided by the prophecies of his House, he is quick to recognize when times and events begin to repeat themselves, and may even seem a little wayward to those not attuned to the inner magics of the realm.
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Father and Lord Protector, the man has been married three times in his life. Once for duty, once for love, and lastly one for survival. While there have always been hopeful young women vying for his eye, Rhaegar can hardly be swayed by their batting lashes and dimpled cheeks. Though married now to a foreign woman from Tyrosh, it is his nature to remain a loyal husband, and has no intention nor energy to even consider entertaining another. Perhaps it is because he believes he has already met, and lost, the love of his life, and now is bound to spend the rest of his life with his third wife instead. If one should try placing themselves in his path and in his bed, they would kindly find themselves pushed out of it.

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<label for="toggle-1"><div class="kh" id="one"><h1>Rhaegar Targaryen</h1>
<h2>the dragon king</h2>
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Upon first impression, or perhaps many thereafter, the Lord of Winterfell seems an unfriendly man, unsmiling and even unapproachable. Where most men radiate at least a bodily warmth, Rickard seems to release a frigid aura wherever he goes. Though at first a wild and ambitious young man, the forty plus years as Warden of the North has left him the true embodiment of such; cold, unyielding and unmovable. To his men he is a wise but fierce commander, and after so long one can begin to see that Rickard even has a sense of humor, as dark as it may be sometimes. Unwavering in his beliefs, one can appreciate him for his qualities as much as one can loathe him for it, yet know that the man will seldom change if he does not see an immediate personal benefit. He has little patience for those easily insulted, those who cannot brave a winter night or who shy at the idea of dirt and muck. He will not adapt to you; you will have to adapt to him.
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Though hard to befriend, it is easy to win his disapproval, and he never hesitates to let a man know what he truly thinks of him. Stubborn and perhaps even crude at times, one can easily see the man has not left the North for many years, his mannerisms so straightforward and blunt that some see it as a breath of fresh air and others see it downright insufferable. Regardless, he expects the best out of anyone he meets, and if they at all ever prove useless, then it is nearly impossible to make him believe otherwise. Holding the value of hard work as close as he does his faith, if one cannot pull their own weight, one will not have a place at his table.
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Married to the same woman for as long as he's been Warden, that is not to say he has always been faithful. True to his nature, Rickard usually and quite easily takes what he wants, and dares anyone to say otherwise. It was when he was a younger man did he find himself a paramour any time his wife fell pregnant or ill, any time she was away for a prolonged absence or any time he departed for war. However, make no mistake, the man does love his wife... just, in his own way. His indulgences, though discreet, were frequent and passionate, yet still remained fleeting and easily forgotten. As he got older and he and his wife were no longer having children, he had little reason to stray from her bed, and aside from a single night here and there over the years, he did not seek out others for affection for a long while. Alas, times change, and Rickard finds himself now uncharacteristically enamored with a young woman he fears may come to cause him more trouble and more pain than he is prepared for. IN FACT, YOU SHOULD MAKE HER! *CLICK HERE*
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<label for="toggle-2"><div class="kh" id="two"><h1>Rickard Stark</h1>
<h2>warden of the north</h2>
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Devoted at first to nothing other than the sea, its dark blue depths and its shallow green oases, the white frosted caps on the waves and the repetitive pull of the tide, Lucerys' own heart and soul seemed to be married to the ocean since the moment he stepped foot in it. An admiral by right of birth, one could say the man has saltwater in his veins rather than blood, for being a son of the Master of Ships put him on the deck of one as soon as he was able to walk. So immersed was he in the sea and sailing its reaches that his father and maester feared he would grow to be an imbecile, an unlearned dullard who had no time for his academics or histories. Forced into the mountains of Silverhill as Lord Serrett's squire was as much a curse as it was a blessing, for though it parted him from the ocean for many years, it was there he learned how to be a true man, knight and lord.
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A fine commander, it is in the navy where his sense of strategy lies, able to navigate the stars and storms with natural ease. He holds the members of his crew as close as family, and would as quickly kill -and die- for any of them. Not openly aware of his own sense of duty, it can still be seen in his actions and his diligence to his tasks, from his bailiwick of the Seawatch to his home of High Tide. Those reckless and thoughtless, ones who act first without considering the consequences will give him a sour taste in his mouth with little patience to compensate. He has no time for those who delve in lies and gambles, for he once suffered at his own hand for an opiate addiction he developed during a brief stint in Pentos. Though considered recovered for a few years now, no doubt the demons will always lurk within, so anyone who could awaken these with their own bad habits are not welcome under his roof or on his ship.
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The opium, however, was not the only thing he came to love during his time in Pentos. While he had only fleeting and unmemorable encounters as a boy, it was an exotic Pentoshi courtesan that he first bedded. One could say he can’t quite remember every detail about their time together, but it was in favor of his betrothal and eventual marriage to Princess Rhaenna that at last had him choosing to leave Pentos, the courtesan and the opium behind. Now as Rhaenna’s consort and Lord of High Tide, he could not possibly think of anyone else, for the desires of his heart, mind, body and soul all have been made physical by her existence. Now that he has everything, Lucerys can only pray for his turn at fatherhood.
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<label for="toggle-3"><div class="kh" id="three"><h1>Lucerys Velaryon</h1>
<h2>commander of the seawatch</h2>
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Unlucky enough to be a bastard yet still fortunate enough to be a <i>Dornish</i> bastard, Maron's blood runs as hot as the sun above the Red Mountains and as thick as the white sands of their deserts. Abrasive and temperamental, he wavers between right and wrong nearly on a daily basis, as if the consequences of his very birth follow him. Though a trusted advisor to his mother the Lady of Ghost Hill, nowadays can he rarely be found in his own home, having journeyed long and far that no doubt he has both comrades and enemies in many southron realms. A hedge knight before a true knight, he does not shy from selling his sword to any rich man's cause, earning his keep both from random tournaments he finds and from his service to various lords of all statures. Vicious with a spear, relentless with his longsword and completely unbeatable with his fists, Maron has killed many... and knows he will have to kill many more before his time is up. Guilt is for the dead and dying, and he is neither.
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He has made an enemy out of the entire Citadel, no doubt, after he slaughtered a number of acolytes in his efforts to save Sarella Alleras Sand from her his fate. His hatred for maesters and all of their ilk runs deeper than a festering wound, and any of those who would rather wield a book than a weapon. A man of action, he does not bode well with those more apt to spend their years reflecting and contemplating, and grows easily bored of anyone who does not share his same mindset. Naturally restless, it seems he is always on the move, and for such reasons can very rarely stay committed to a single cause or person. The friends he does have, he likely has not seen for a number of months, if not longer.
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True to his heritage, the heat of Dorne is just as strong in him as its passion, and he finds his desires manifested in the bastard daughter of Oberyn Martell, Sarella. It is no secret to the public that they are a pair, and whether or not they welcome others into their bed is only their own business to delve. Rest assured, Maron has killed for the woman, and would gladly do so again if it meant her safety and wellbeing. While he is in no position to be a father, much less offer a stable life to a child, Sarella's two miscarriages have carved such a scar in his soul that, deep down, Maron desires to be nothing other than a father to his lover's children.
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<h2>bastard of ghost hill</h2>
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Known as one of the great beauties of the realm, Ashara has won the hearts from sworn knights to dallying young heirs, from Ser Barristan Selmy to a pair of youthful Stark boys. It is not only her violet eyes and songbird singing voice that has drawn people close, but so instilled is she with such a sense of duty that one cannot help but admire her. As a girl she was the favorite of Princess Elia, spending her most formative years in Sunspear as her chief handmaiden. When they were brought to call Dragonstone and the Red Keep their new homes, no longer was she hidden away beyond the Red Mountains, flourishing into the wizened and nurturing woman she is today. Though a past ridden with tragedies, she rose far as the second wife of Tywin Lannister, even securing a royal match to their daughter, for though she may be loving and unconditional, she remains strategical and acutely aware of all that goes on around her.
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One could say she has since fallen from grace, and though the Lannister name still follows her, she has not seen the Rock in many moons. Her travels and temporary residences have somewhat numbed her to the grief she continues to process, feeling more of a drifter and without place than she ever has before. Though loved by the Seven Kingdoms and still adored by even the King himself, her growing detachment from the world has left her forcing more smiles than she cares to count. Her heart may be big, if not too big, but even it has its limits, and she fears she may have reached them. Even in her role as a mother does she feel displacement, for her daughter rules in the palace of Summerhall, while her son now stands as the heir to Casterly Rock, and she finds herself apart from them more times than not. As all of her perceived mistakes and failures, past experiences and recent tragedies begin to manifest in her thoughts, it becomes a constant struggle to not let grief and anger overtake her.
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Easily considered to be poised and elegant, a true matriarch from the most simplest of her movements to the words she speaks, many have no doubt sought Ashara's affection over the years. It was at the King's behest was she married to Tywin all those years ago, and while their union brought about a strong partnership between she and her husband, an alliance and agreement that left them both content, hardly could she call it love. She needed him, yes, and he her, but she remains uncertain if she has ever felt such an emotion for any man. The idea that her heart could be open to another seems almost foreign and unlikely, but surely not impossible, for she knows deep down she craves a lover's touch. Even though she continues to mourn her loss of Tywin, her bed has been coldly empty for far too long. Marriage may never happen for her again, for she is likely beyond childbearing age and has little other than her name to offer, but she knows deep down that, if the circumstances proved true, she would find herself at the altar again.
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<label for="toggle-5"><div class="kh" id="five"><h1>Ashara Lannister</h1>
<h2>widow of casterly rock</h2>
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Evil incarnate, maliciousness manifested, cunning and cruelty made physical, such is the boon that is the second son of House Greyjoy. It was after his violent drowning at all of five years of age did he emerge dark and twisted, his wicked new life unlike that of what he knew before he was pinned beneath the waves. Always thirsty for battle and bloodshed, he showed no quarter to his brothers, and even showed some of his siblings a mercy that some would deem the worst sin of all. Not afraid of taking the lives of his own kin, Euron cannot be trusted any more than he can be thrown, but that still does not seem to make him any less of a commander and captain worth the obedience of a massive fleet. It is highly unlikely that the man counts truly anyone a friend or comrade, for if they are not a follower or a supporter, then he has no need of their existence. Controlled by a need to be served, searching endlessly for the tools of power and the men to help him win it, Euron's affection goes only so far as his use for you. Never mind that he cuts out the willing tongues of all who swear their vows to him.
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No doubt much of the known world both fears and loathes the entity that is Crow's Eye. From Lys to Naath, Old Valyria to Yi Ti, the Great Moraq to the Shadowlands, his name is as familiar as it is filled with dread. While he does not take paltry and common loot for himself, he allows his crew to pillage at whim, reserving only the most valuable and important of treasures for their captain. Princes, triarchs, magistrates and senators all seethe at his name, but know they are powerless to fend him from their shores once he finally arrives. Many say Euron strides both worlds, keeping one leg in the one of the living and the other in the shadow realm, where he can see and hear things no other mortal man could. Even if one is not afraid of the man, one could still be easily disturbed, for he has little love for fellow man and an even greater hunger for the reflection that stares back at him. Those that serve his brother Balon, or even his nephew Rodrik, will soon find themselves at the brunt of Euron's taste for revenge.
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A father of many bastards, Crow's Eye could never be bothered to remember their names or maybe even their existence. Perhaps he has children, perhaps he does not, it matters little to him. Having forced himself upon dozens of women throughout his lifetime and taking at least half of that as salt wives, logic stands to point out he likely has many unwanted seed populating both the Iron Islands and many places in Essos. Their mothers of course would know only their deaths await them if they were to confront him, for he has no interest in appointing his name onto none other than his chosen heir. Completely and dangerously obsessed with Falia Flowers since his return to Westeros, he has already decreed her child shall be his successor, for his aim to sweep Pyke out from underneath his brother and his children remain his greatest ambition. Despite that, if a woman proves of use to him, it very well may be that she will find herself sharing the bed of the soon-to-be Lord and Lady of Pyke.
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<label for="toggle-6"><div class="kh" id="six"><h1>Euron Greyjoy</h1>
<h2>crow's eye</h2>
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One can never seem to truly conjure up a definition for the Knight of Stone Hedge, for though the man is charming, even warm, he remains mysterious, if not entirely distant at times. Almost calculating in what he offers people, Hendry seems to keep most right where he prefers them, and never closer than arm's length. Perhaps it is because he seeks to hide something about himself, or perhaps it is because he has no trust for fellow man. Whatever the case, there are very few people he counts as his comrades, one of them being his own cousin Harry Rivers. While he is not ever openly confrontational, nor will he outwardly show his distaste for someone, one would be mistaken to interpret his formalities for friendliness. Though only the nephew of the Lord of Stone Hedge, it is Hendry who stands as his likely heir, often leaving the knight as the focal point during feasts or congregations held at the castle. Of course, many can claim to have met the man, but very, very few can claim to actually know him.
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Naturally pensive when left alone, he can oft times be see as a simple man with very infrequent demands. What he does not ask a servant, he will do himself, as he trusts none other than his own methods to see a task complete. For this reason he is well-versed in manual labor, knowing well how to repair many things small and large, and is usually overseeing any major project set forth. Appreciative of those who share in the same methods, or those who can work quickly and efficiently, he seeks to surround himself with these type of people who will one day share in his ascension to Lord of Stone Hedge. Always liking to know the right man for the right needs, one will still be told only what one needs to know, and will remain just on the fringe of Hendry's trust until deemed valuable enough for more.
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It is almost impossible to get the knight to speak of the women in his life, if there even are any to mention. Though he is not open about his experiences and interests, his deepest desires lie with none other than his own cousin Catelyn. Eleven years his junior, he has been sharing the girl's bed since she was just barely flowered, and through his utmost discretion and secrecy has he been able to continue their relationship. Guilt and regret constantly plague him for his unending affections for her, sometimes enough to make him sick, but it is never long before he finds himself returning to her side. One could say it is as if he is under some sort of spell, for even his arranged marriage to Lenora Lychester has done nothing to keep him from going to Catelyn in favor of her touch. He admittedly struggles to maintain his time with both, for it may even be that he comes to appreciate Lenora more and more, and finds himself torn from his cousin's side. Regardless, he has no room nor time for any more women in his life.
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<label for="toggle-7"><div class="kh" id="seven"><h1>Hendry Bracken</h1>
<h2>ser knight</h2>
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Born under the most measly of circumstances, Allara was destined to a life of servitude not from the moment of her birth, but from the moment of her very conception. Though half-noble, her father Lord Rosby remains completely unaware of her existence, and it will likely remain that way so long as the girl lives. Born and raised in the Red Keep, she has served the royal family since she was old enough to hoist a privy pot, and has for much of her life been little more than just that. A servant. True to her stature in life, Allara can be known to be somewhat meek and reserved, for holding her tongue and shielding her thoughts are the expectations of any maidservant. Very rarely and only to the most trusted of ears will she actually talk, using words and accents not befitting a servant, but of one who has watched and learned from the nobles over the many years.
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While no one really knew of her existence, simply one of the many hundreds of those that serve the royal family, she has since taken a prominent place in the public eye as Prince Valarr's paramour and mother to his bastard child. Comfortable in the shadows, unseen and unnoticed, it has been a huge transition into court life, being forced to openly acknowledge her station as a royal mistress on one side, and a lowly harlot on another. Depends on who is asked. Regardless, she fears isolation as much as she misses it, for so long did she lead a simple, safe life as a maidservant, but now knows for the safety of her royal bastard, she can never be alone again. Surrounded by unfamiliar faces and voices, she is too frightened and too unlearned to know who to trust and who to avoid, leaving her an easy target to those with ulterior ambitions. Anyone who offers her a strong hand might find her all too easy to bend to their will, so afraid is she of her new life and so uneducated on how the game works that one could make quick work of using her as their pawn.
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For a number of years she has been the sole lover of Prince Valarr, and he hers. Never has she even considered to look at another man in such a way. Though with his marriage to the Lady Alea comes expected troubles, and after so long, Allara begins to worry for things she never at first considered. While she is not smart enough to ever use her position as the Prince's paramour to any true advantage, that is not to say she couldn't follow the directions of someone else looking to use her themselves. As much as she loves and is devoted to Valarr, her sadness and increasing jealousy surrounding his marriage to Alea will no doubt be seen as vulnerable and easy to manipulate by someone with an apt mind. Though her heart will likely never cherish another like it does the Prince, the girl remains easy to fool and even easier to mislead.
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<label for="toggle-8"><div class="kh" id="eight"><h1>Allara Waters</h1>
<h2>lady maidservant</h2>
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[/dohtml]
Sep 28 2017, 09:17 PM
[dohtml]<center><link href="https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Tangerine" rel='stylesheet' type='text/css'"><div style="background-color: #F0F0F0; padding: 10px; width: 300px; border-left: 8px solid #b30000;">
<div style="width: 280px; padding: 11px; background-color: #ffffff; font-family: georgia; color: #000000; font-size: 11px; line-height: 100%; text-align: justify;">

<div style="width: 280px; font-family: 'Tangerine', cursive; font-size: 30px; color: #000000; line-height: 90%; letter-spacing: 1px;">To My Lady of the North,</div>
<p>


It is late, my lady, so late that I can hear my squires snoring behind me. I am not sure how the poor boys suffer me, truly, but they seem to adapt quickly. Perhaps it best I knight them all soon, it is nearly time, even overdue. I think I will miss them too much to do so. Does that make me a horrible liege? How selfish of me, holding these fine young men from their futures, if only to keep them for myself. I simply do not have the energy to think of taking on their replacements. After all, to be the King's squire is not so much of an honor nowadays, is it? Unpredictable at best. Even dangerous. I might even feel guilty to knight them, dub them with Blackfyre, commit them to my wars and mayhaps even seal their very lives. Lorent would be happy for the chance at glory. Theo would bow his head and do as he is told. Olyvar… the boy is loyal to a fault. Much too dutiful and eager to serve. He would make a fine Kingsguard one day, were he not meant to take Old Oak. Perhaps if Lord Arys ever has a child, I can consider Olyvar’s eventual appointment. He would serve Aegon well.
</p><p>
I ramble as if a child learning to speak. Forgive me. It is as if I fool myself, thinking I am writing these thoughts to share with Lyanna. They are what I would say to her, were she here. You know that. Sometimes it is all I can do to keep the grief from taking me. I miss her every second she is not here, and more with every passing day. Still I find the breath robbed of my lungs when I think of her. My marriage to Lorainna is but a few days away, and yet I find myself consumed with thoughts of our she-wolf. How am I to meet the Tyroshi girl at the altar, when it is only war binding us? I took Elia as my wife when duty demanded it, but this is different somehow. I know my children loathe me for my decision. Was it even my decision? Did I have any choice at all in this? I feel little more than I did when I was at my father’s whim, forced to marry Dorne’s princess. I pray I can grow half as fond for Lorainna as I was of Elia. I miss her, too. Every day.
</p><p>
As much as I wish to summon you south, wish for your company and comfort, I know you must remain in the North. Sometimes I wonder if Lyanna should have never left all those years ago. But it does no good to speak of roads not taken. Write to me when you can, Lady Stark. I anxiously await your raven.
</p><p>
Your Loving Son,

<div style="width: 280px; font-family: 'Tangerine', cursive; font-size: 35px; color: #000000; line-height: 90%; letter-spacing: 1px; text-align:right;">R. Targaryen</div>
</div>

<div style="with: 300px; font-family: courier new, serif; font-size: 4px; line-height: 70%; text-align: right;">x</div></center>[/dohtml]
Sep 13 2017, 07:42 PM
Set after the return of Aegon, after Rhaegar's marriage to Lorainna and before ships depart for Tyrosh.

It was late. He could tell as much not by the darkness that welcomed his eyes when he glanced towards the cold window panes, nor even by the weakening candles that loitered the council table. Rather the slow, sickening ache he felt in his head, starting just behind his brows, seeping into his temples and down across the back of his scalp, intensifying the longer he was forced to inhale the perfumed air wafting from his Master of Whispers. How long had they been sitting here? Hours, of course. Suppose he could be thankful that Varys’ aromas had soured his appetite, no longer concerned with having his supper brought to him on time. Purple eyes scanning over the scrolls and manuscripts before him, the King silently recanted every detail brought to him today. “That will be all for tonight, my lords,” he finally said, as much to his own relief as it was to the men around him. Velaryon, Baelish, Varys and Pycelle, he watched with a tired gaze when they filed out of the council chamber, standing only to embrace his Hand before he, too, turned to depart out of his own private exit. He could hear his shadow armored in white enamel following close behind. “Arthur,” he called out lightly, summoning his Lord Commander to his side as they walked. “Would you be awfully cross with me if I asked you relieve my brother of his duties tonight?” The slight pause between them brought a tiny smirk to the King’s lips. “Have him meet me in my solar. And have him bring wine. Plenty of it.”

One could say Rhaegar had less reason to drink, now that his heir was returned to him alive and intact, now that Westeros had a new queen in Lorainna, and now that he would soon have the wheel of Tyrosh crushed beneath his might. But however much changed, even for a king, still so much seemed to remain the same. Still he worried over his daughter Visenya and the new child in her womb. Still he fretted for his sister Daenerys, her wroth towards him causing a festering pit in his chest. Still he frenzied over Rhaenna and her apparent state of mind, exchanging frequent ravens with his goodson Lucerys to receive insight when she seemed too aloof, too distant to provide it herself. I see her before me every day, he remembered reading, and yet sometimes it is as if she feels as far away as the North itself. Rhaegar’s heart had sank with an abysmal gloom upon seeing those words, and he could feel it sink again as he recalled them, stepping into his solar and shutting the door behind him. With his committal to war against the Free Cities, with the burning of Volantis and the coming clash with Tyrosh, he felt at least remotely more confident under his crown, a feeling he had nearly forgotten. But as a father, a brother, it was as if sand slipping through his fingers. When had he forgotten how to control his kingdoms and his family? Was it when he lost Lyanna? Would he ever come to remember what it was like?

Before he could answer his own thoughts, much less silence them, his dutiful squire Olyvar was soon there to do it for him. To the hearth he stoked a new fire, renewed the candles that lined the solar’s interior and even cleared his charge’s desk of all the yellowed scrolls that decorated it. He helped disrobe Rhaegar of his heavy cloak and gloves, pulled him free of his black-threaded doublet and was diligent in taking Blackfyre to be stored safely in his bedchambers. When the boy finally took his leave, given his freedom to spend the rest of his night as he wished, the repose between his squire’s departure and his brother’s arrival was like a sweet salve to a sore wound. The quiet of his solar, only the sounds of the crackling hearth, his beating heart and rhythmic breath was just enough, just enough, before the King realized he still yearned for company not quite his own. By the time he half-collapsed onto the chaise lounge, resting his head back upon the pillows and propping his booted feet upon the opposite end, he could hear the sound of his doors opening. “That better be you, brother,” he called out, hiding a smile. “With two casks of wine. If not,” he lifted his head, if only marginally, to spy out his sibling. "Then turn around and try again."
Aug 5 2017, 03:46 PM
A part of him was almost surprised, if not relieved, to feel his heart pound so heavily. Rhaegar had been certain, more times than once, that the muscle felt like it seized in his chest with every inward breath, reminding him of his grief, his failures and all the weights he continued to bear upon his soul. But now he was sure of its life, of its strength, as it hammered wildly against the boned cage of his ribs and fluttered without caution into his gut. Clenching his teeth, it seemed it was all he could do to keep his hands from shaking as he fit a gold and ruby ring over his middle digit. Once, many, many years ago, the King had been plagued with such atypical stressors, fears and doubts that could have very well defined the rest of his reign. How would his people receive him, he once wondered, when he crowned Lyanna his Queen? They had hardly accepted Elia, how would they accept his she-wolf? They accept you, Jon had told him, helping him don his finest of royal garb for his wedding day. They love you, he had promised, riding with him to the Great Sept of Baelor where Lyanna waited.

Would they still love him, he fretted, when he crowned Lorainna of Tyrosh? Would they still accept him, and shed tears of reverence as he passed? Or would they scorn him, and cry only for the woman she was succeeding? Rhaegar grit his jaw again, sighing sharply at his own reflection in the mirror. Their silver prince he may be, but above all, he was their Lord Protector. It was his utmost duty to protect the Seven Kingdoms and its people, and if it meant he would have to marry a foreign girl from Tyrosh to see it done, then so be it. The King had already lost enough, and stood to lose even more. If his marriage to Lady Lorainna kept he and his House from an even more disastrous fate, then he would face her before the High Septon without second thought. She had been found innocent of the crimes posed against her, and had been found more useful to he than her father the Archon perhaps ever imagined. Was Rhaegar truly so close to redemption? To finding justice for Tywin Lannister and Elyse Arryn? What of his son Valarr, and the arrow that nearly killed him? And poor Ashara, almost felled in his own palace? Was he truly so close to finding justice for them all?

Of course, these were not things he could place upon the shoulders of his future queen. Not aloud, at least, but she had her role to play in this great game of theirs. Perhaps once Volantis was reduced to naught but ashes, and Tyrosh brought under the very heel of the Iron Throne with Tyrion Lannister thrown at his feet, he could turn his eyes northward and face the darkness that was coming for them. But until then, he thought, departing his apartments, his heavy cloak of crimson-dyed sable trailing behind him. I must face what is right before me. Wearing an almost placid expression, something akin to the surface of an undisturbed lake, the only ripples of emotion flickered just in the depths of his indigo pools, lapping at the edges of his irises with half-formed thoughts not yet coherent even to himself. Behind him he could hear the telltale sounds of his Kingsguard, the knights Garth and Richard looking as if carved from white marble even as they tailed every royal step. Ascending higher and higher through the Red Keep, at times taking the stairs in twos, Rhaegar began to count the strides left between he and his new fate. He wondered, were the gods laughing at him? Or did they pity him, watching him make way to a strange and foreign queen?

The gods are cruel, he thought silently, and not for the first time. Passing through a colossal stone archway, at last having reached the upper terraces upon the palace’s roof, Rhaegar stepped almost undulated into the open air. The sun, still secluded behind a thick layer of grey, offered not a sliver of warmth to the King who still burned beneath his garb, but the chilled wind proved hardly a deterrent to his well-oiled joints. Long hair tied behind his nape, there remained only a few stray strands of silver and gold threads that whisked past his eyes, catching on his lips and the unshaven beard on his jaw. Though he did not wear a crown upon his brow, his neck felt heavy; an ache that spiraled into his shoulders and coiled around the base of his spine, reminding him that even when off of his throne, a king never sat easy. In only a moment his eyes adjusted to the change in light, squinting briefly before he felt the miniscule tendons at the corners of his lids relax and allow his expression the same stoic design he so easily, if not naturally wore.

“There, Your Grace,” gestured his sworn shield Ser Garth, a steel gauntlet motioning towards the silken figure in the distance. For a brief moment he was reminded of their very first meeting, though not upon this terrace and instead cloaked with the night sky, still, did he not have the same two Kingsguards in attendance then? Had he not come upon her in one of his gardens, speculating on her choice of attire, her inexperience with the cold that was coming for them? If only he had known then, what he knew now. Perhaps he could have spared them both from the head and heartaches. Sighing, briefly summoning what fortitude he had left, Rhaegar made way towards her, praying the crunch of his boots upon the gravel was enough to drown out the sound of his pounding heart. Though his two knights in their white armor paused just a few paces behind, the King could still feel their presence and their eyes, burning into his back and no doubt upon the green-haired woman soon to be his queen.

“My lady,” he greeted, almost surprising even himself with the sound of his own voice. It sounded much stronger than he felt. Drawing in a breath, Rhaegar’s eyes danced across her form, appraising her in an entirely new light. Odd, it felt, to think she was his royal hostage not even a fortnight ago. Though, he supposed, she had never ceased being his betrothed… “I am glad to see you.” It was then he reached forth, seeking her nimble fingers with the tender grasp of his own, and bringing her knuckles up to his lips so that he could put a warm kiss upon the bony ridges. “I had hoped to come to you sooner, but…” he paused, swallowing hard. “I feared you would not wish it.”
May 1 2017, 04:07 PM
FOLLOWING A TWISTED FOOL

He had not slept. For how long? A day? Two? Perhaps it was nearing three. Since departing for Dragonstone, returning with Aemithor's blood on his hands, entering the throne room to find the letter from Volantis waiting for him, calling for his own betrothed's arrest, the King had not rested. Very rarely was he left alone, either in the company of his Small Council, his Hand or Lord Commander, his children or even his squires, Rhaegar refused to retire to his own bedchambers. Only the crushing, suffocating realization of his failures rested there, lurking, lingering, waiting for him to fall asleep so they could take him in his most vulnerable of times. Lyanna's ghost waited for him behind the curtains. Tywin's angry spirit and Elyse's murdered soul crept at the corners of his bed. Any time he closed his eyes, the image of his bleeding and burning son Prince Aegon lashed out at the depths of his eyelids. He could not go there, he could not relinquish himself to the demons of his own mind, wondering incessantly if Viserys had reached the Black Wall yet, if he was alive, if even if his son was alive with him. So empty had his gut felt, for so long, that Rhaegar even refused the smallest bites of food. He could not eat. Not until he knew his son was alive.

Though his stomach was empty, his mind continued to race and whirl with all of its endless contents. Like the great torrents that could be expelled from his dragons' gullets, so too did his heart feel like a fiery tempest. Was this what he was destined for? Loss and betrayal at every turn? At times Rhaegar worried he would go as mad as his father, for it was a wonder how he had not already... alas, his sanity was still there, still intact, still suffering. Sometimes he believed it would just be easier to follow the same descent as his predecessor, until at last some valiant Kingsguard put a sword through his back and ended his misery. With a sigh, Rhaegar steeled himself, dark purple eyes trained on the long corridor before him. For days he had kept his betrothed behind those very doors he neared, secured behind the vigil of palace guards, separated from all but one of her handmaidens and questioned daily by the force of his deputies. Even the men who had held places at her side, as translators and advisors, were sequestered far away from the likes of their young charge. Until the King knew the truth, until he was sure he could get Aegon back, Lorainna was nothing more than a traitor. A spy. Would they seek to execute her alongside the dwarf her father so coveted? Rhaegar's fists clenched at his sides as he walked. Perhaps Tywin had been right all along. Perhaps Tyrion Lannister should have been smothered in his cradle.

Tailed by four of his Kingsguard, the sounds of their armor echoed against the marble floors with every powerful stride. Even the King himself was dressed far from modestly; from his shoulders his thick cloak of ebony sable flowed, fastened by polished silver clasps that glittered in the chandeliers above. Around some of his fingers shone rings of gold and ruby, matching the chain of office beneath his neck and the ruby encrusted dragon brooch that clasped his collar together. He felt... heavy. As if the very fabrics of his crimson-threaded doublet, the weaves of his black trousers and even the hide made for his leather boots all seemed thick and unyielding. Beneath the small circlet of glimmering red gold that he wore around his head, he felt his brows furrowing. "Alert the Lady Lorainna of my arrival," he spoke to the guards at her door, who all wasted not a moment in turning to file into the girl's apartments. Their royal liege was only seconds behind their heels, entering through with little more than a hard scowl framing the unshaven line of his mouth. Some flickering part of his mind recognized the scents and aromas that he had come to know about her, and the slow, telltale signs of her touch that began to decorate the corners and shelves of the rooms. Gods pray he was wrong about her. Rhaegar did not think Westeros would ever have a Queen again, should this green-haired woman from Tyrosh prove to be nothing more than a slithering, venomous snake in his bed.

"Is she alone?" He asked aloud, his Lord Commander stepping up from behind him. "Aye, Your Grace, the Yronwood girl was escorted out prior to our arrival. She is alone." Rhaegar nodded. "Is she well?" At first, his knight's hesitance was almost palpable. "Your Grace?" Swallowing hard, as if remembering himself, Rhaegar gestured for their dismissal, leaving only Arthur himself and a second Kingsguard in the room with him. The others, he could hear, took their places just outside of the doors. It had taken much discussion and even more debate, but in the end, Rhaegar was king, and he would look upon his own betrothed without the Small Council or his other deputies in attendance. At least, for now. Turning to go to her, his deep indigo eyes drank in the details of her chambers as he passed them, still wondering if he had done nothing but shelter and welcome a traitor into his very midst. And to think, they were meant to meet at the bloody altar... what was worse, outliving two of his beloved wives, or having his kingdoms betrayed by a third? Drawing his gaze from all that lined the walls, Rhaegar paused mid-step, almost froze, finding Lorainna standing there in the open entryway to the clouded balcony. "My lady." She looked... the same. Just as he remembered her. It almost made him angry, wondering how someone could so very well hide the evil duplicity that she was said to behold. He wondered, what would she have gone on to do, had he actually made her queen? The thought alone made his jaw clench and gaze flare with the rage that had kept him from sleeping the past three nights. "I would speak with you."
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