To the CourtMature

Tywin lumbered into his bedroom and threw himself down onto the feathered mattress of his bed. Exhaustion sweeping over him in great waves, Ser Baric had been a bigger challenge today than all the other knights he had faced before him, he was fast as a viper and a devious one as well. But like the rest he eventually yielded. Not before he gave Tywin several bruises to wake to mind you. 'My lord, your bath is being prepared.' Spoke a servant he didn’t recognise. She was older than Alaina, he guessed in her late teens with dark hair but sparkling green eyes.

'Thank you, I apologise I don't know your name.' he said as he rose. He hated going to court. For anything. A celebration, a trial, he didn't care. It was all the same. High born Lords and Ladies who thought themselves above the common man whining about how hard it was to find good servants these days. He'd much rather have spent the night feasting with Nana and her friend Ser Roddick, but the king wanted him to show his face, so he must go. A good knight must do the bidding of his king without question. He told himself as he began the long process of unlacing his armour.

'Mary my lord,' she said as she bowed her head as he undressed.

'I do not mean to cause you discomfort, you may wait outside if you'd like?' he offered as he deftly untied the back of his gorget.

'No my lord I'm fine, I just wanted you to keep some dignity.'

'I am not one to get shy easily Mary, and please call me Tywin...I'm no lord and not even a knight. I am just a boy.' That caused her to glance upwards, her cheeks flushed horribly when she realised he was naked. Has she never seen a naked man before or something?

'You’re the Phoenix Knight my lord,' she whispered.

'Not yet.' he smiled coyly. 'You may go Mary I can bathe myself.'

'My lord,' with that and a quick curtsey she was gone. Walking into the wash chambers Tywin cannon-balled into the steaming water of his carved bath, splashing water up the walls, across the ceiling and even sending a few droplets over the open balcony. He knew the water was boiling, that it would have scolded anyone else, but not him. The heat gave him Goosebumps. It felt like flames were dancing over every inch of his skin, their touch breathing new life into his tired aching muscles. Closing his eyes he curled into a ball and just floated in the water, darkness surrounded by warmth. This is what babes must feel like in their mothers belly. When his lungs burst for air he surfaced, gasping in great buckets of the cold summer air. Nana was stood over the sunken bath with a raised eyebrow.

'How many times have I told you not to do that?'

'Do what Nana?' he smiled.

'Water on the roof isn't an easy thing hide Tywin,' even as she said it a large drip fell from the slate ceiling landing square on the top of his head. Nana stifled a laugh. 'No more of that jumping am I clear?'

'Yes Nana.' he said softly.

'You always were a bad liar Tywin,' Nana smiled striding behind him. When he was sure she wouldn't she he smiled to himself, watching her shut the doors to the balcony. 'And wipe that smile off your face.'

'How do you do that!' he yelled spinning in the bath to face her sending a great puddle of water splashing across the lip, wetting the floor massively.

'Nana always knows.' She winked. Tywin smiled up at his grandmother, she wasn't really his least that's what the king said. They didn't share the same blood, but he was the blood of the dragons, he didn't share that with anybody. And what else do you call the elderly woman who raised you apart from Nana. She hadn't really changed from how his first memory of her looked like, gray eyes kind and twinkling, silver hair tied into a long braid held in place by the scarlet rope of the Matriarch's. Always wearing the same gray dresses. 'Have you decided what to wear tonight my knight?' she asked walking over to the grand oak dressing table where four towels sat folded on its top. Four hot stones placed in the folds of each one to warm them through.

'Well I was going to go with clothes...unless nude boys in the court sounds like a good idea to you too?'

'Don't get cheeky,' she said immediately. Tywin smiled. 'How about the new red from the Gold Isle? The one with the huge golden Phoenix on its cape? That'll compliment your eyes, and definitely make you stand out.'

'I was thinking more the green.' he said staring at his reflection in the still waters. A large bruise had already begun to crawl its way across his cheek from where Ser Baric had back handed him with his gauntlet.

'Green is the colour of spring, this is summer.' she turned to him opening one of the towels, white hot stones sent clattering across the floor. One rolled on its rounded edge and made it all the way to the bath, dropping into the water with a hiss of steam but nothing more. 'Wear the red, it will please the king,' she smiled.

'Is he even going to be there? I haven't spoken to him in months.' he said standing, water running off him. He never knew why she instead he wore a towel. Stood naked out of the water for a few minutes the water would have evaporated off his burning hot skin. No one ever saw the king anymore, he was always holed up in his tower for one reason or another...Tywin had once thought him his father...but now? Now he wasn't sure what the king was. Just some man who had once saved his life.

'His armies have won a victory against the raiders of the Ice Islands and his forces in the Mainland claim more and more land in his name, King Baelor will be there. Even if just up on his balcony he will be there.'

Walking through the castle with Nana at his side wearing the red suit with golden buttons and the huge flaming phoenix sowed onto its cape Tywin glanced through the pillars to the lands beyond the walls of Dragons Fort. Past the colossal towers and huge domed halls were the twisting streets and winding roads of Valaria. The capital city of the Jade Isle and capital of the Kingdom of the Nine Isles, named after the beauty the Dragon Knight had given his heart to Tywin had to admit the city was beautiful. Many of the buildings had glass roofs to better allow the light to flood inwards onto its occupants, bathing them in the liquid yellow light of the setting sun. This place was beautiful, but he found it had one too many bodies hanging from its walls of late. The kings doing...thieves and pickpockets most of them...thieving to buy themselves a living in the slums of Valaria. They didn't deserve to die...not for that.

Walking down from their towers walls into the main courtyard hundreds of lords and ladies were striding forth towards the Hall of Heroes, the lords wearing their finest silks with the sigils of their houses emblazoned over their breasts whilst the women wore corseted dresses and waved fans elegantly to cool themselves in the summer heat. Every colour dress imaginable was on show. From the purest of whites to the darkest of midnight blacks, jewels glinting off the rings on their thin delicate fingers. Placing his hands behind his back Tywin forced his most courtly smile to his face as they turned when they saw him approach. No one spoke...that would come later when the feast had begun. For now they all waited at the steps of the Hall of Heroes...their names being called out by a squire as they entered. Tywin and Nana would go last he knew, because he was the most important...then the king.

The Sun had fallen and the moon risen in its place by the time the last of the guests appeared, 'Ready my knight?' smiled Nana patting his arm reassuringly.

'As I'll ever be, if you see me drifting off stab me with a fork I'll be right after that.' Nana laughed as she moved off into the jostling hall. People were already drinking as they seated themselves on the great wooden tables beside their friends and family. It was a beautiful building the Hall of Hereos. Crafted by King Arryk the Architect thousands of years ago it was a perfect square of tiled purple slate that often looked black in the rain. The windows where huge long rectangles that greeted the setting sun bathing the entire hall with fiery orange light when the time was right. Now it was used as a memorial to all the Phoenix Knight's that had come before him.

Lady Cerrenia the Beautiful who sacked a whole city by herself, Ser Barristan the Brave, Lady Goclyn of the Whitewood, Ser Garrik the Mighty, Ser Salvor the Seductor, Ser Maxwell the Redstar, Lady Melay the Knight of the Rising Sun, Ser Hodor the last Phoenix Knight who had been killed by a sword of ice to the heart. All those and more brought to life in one art form or another, some by paint, others marble, some enamel. I wonder what I will be rendered in...And what they will call me. At the end of the hall Tywin could see his company for the knight, they didn't look so bad. When he was sure no one else was coming he strode up the steps and stood in the large rectangular doorway.

All fell silent as the squire raised his voice. 'Tywin the Goldeneye, fourteenth Phoenix Knight of the Nine Isles, sworn protector of the realm, King Baelor Barristan's Champion in waiting.' Striding down the central passageway every set of eyes turned to him with smiles, the men raised their goblets in a silent honour as the woman pointed and giggled, speaking to each other behind their hands. 'Ladies and Gentlemen,' the squire announced when he was only halfway down the main isle between the tables. 'I introduce to you, King Baelor Barristan, the first of his name, Dragon Knight incarnate, Father of the Nine Isles, protector of the realm, sworn sword to the Gods of the Isles, Lord Commander of the Knights Regent, owner and rightful king of the Granite Throne.' Looking up to the balcony above the main table, Tywin saw the door slide open, and the king stride through into the hall.

The End

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