All eyes turned to look at King Baelor Barristan as he strode onto the large balcony, glorious and massive in his jet black armour with roaring dragons adorning his breast plate, inlaid with gold and platinum, eyes of deep red rubies staring out soullessly over the crowd. Two dragon shaped clasps held a black cloak against his shoulders, silver blonde hair tied into a tight braid running down his back stopping just above his belt line. Hard violet eyes stared out passively at lords and ladies of his court, no hint of emotion leaving his pale horse like face. A colossal sword hung at his hip, Dragonfire the blade was called, how many enemies it had cut down with it no one knew. Countless men, brothers, sons, grandsons, uncles, cousins...the king however hadn't stepped into the field of battle in years, but his sword still never left his side. The twelve generals of his personal guard, The Dragon Guard they called themselves, appeared behind him moving to their places on the long oak table. Tywin knew the Black Guard scared Nana, he dared not think how the Dragon Guard made her feel...each one battle hardened, cruel, vindictive.
Each of his generals wore the burning red cloaks adorned with the roaring black dragon of House Barristan, marking them out as members of the Dragon Guard. Beneath their crimson cloaks the armour of their houses adorned their bodies, the heraldry of their Houses adorned somewhere across their armour, be it on their breast plate or their gauntlet. Tywin could have named them all and their houses and their fathers and mothers...but the king was staring down at him. Violet eyes bearing into his skull. Gold met amethyst as Tywin stared back at his lord...his king...his father. But then the king sat down in his chair, staring into the open space above the heads of his guests. A rock dropped through his stomach, the excitement he had at seeing the king...gone.
'Lord Tywin?' asked a sudden voice from the fog of his mind. Snapping his head up Tywin looked across the table at the Lord that was smiling at him.
'I apologise Lord Hannock my thoughts ran away with me,' he smiled back sitting up slightly straighter in his chair. Nana placed a hand on his knee under the table lovingly. She knows why I'm upset.
'It's quite all right, I simply asked your opinion on the White Isle.' said Lord Hannock. Tywin smiled and looked to the other guests on his grand table. Nearly all were looking at him with serious expressions.
'What about the White Isle?'
'Have you not heard young one? There's talk of open rebellion,' said the grand Knight Ser Victor Exelbey. He was a large barrel-chested man with fine golden hair and deep brown eyes, a suit of fine black silks with red slashes down its huge sleeves made him somehow drift into the background with so many lords and ladies wearing such vibrant colours. But what do you expect from a knight of the Iron Isle, all black and steel. Sewn across his breast was the flaming hammer of his house, one of the few spots of colour on his whole attire. 'They say the king is deaf to their pleas for more defences and soldiers to protect them from the barbarians,'
'I hear they're as much barbarians as those creatures from the Ice Islands.' one lady chipped in down the table.
'Is it true they pray to cats?' asked another to Tywin's left.
'I hear they lay with wolves!' giggled Lady Tanda, Lord Hannock's wife.
'Better than laying with their women!' announced a large bald Lord near the very end of the table to Tywin left, laughter burst from the mouths of everyone that heard and those that didn't hear were told by their friends, then another wave of laughter would crash over Tywin's ears.
'And I hear they are some of the bravest and strongest warriors of all the Nine Isles.' said Twyin not even attempting to disguise the bite to his words. He smiled at the portly woman and she gingerly smiled back before taking a large draft from her goblet. Staring down at the bald Lord that had made the joke he found him suddenly taking an overwhelming interest with some dirt beneath his finger nail. 'We need the northmen,' Tywin spoke over the silence. 'Without them and the defences of White Isle who knows what the Nine Isles would have become under the barbarians ruling, without them the Kingdom will crumble.'
'Brave words child.' spoke Ser Calverly a few seats down from his left.
'No true words ser,' as he looked to the tall knight garbed in deep purple robes he caught a sight of Nana, she looked proud. 'They know how to fight the Islanders, do you?' Ser Calveryly was quiet. 'Do you Ser Exelby?' silence.
'And what if they rebel Phoenix Knight? What would you do in the face of war? If you were in His Grace's boots.' asked Nana's friend Ser Roddick who was sitting directly across from her. If I were in the kings boots.
'Ask for peace...and then give them their men.' he said simply. Silence fell over the table as they took in his answer, some looked impressed, others angry, it was hard to tell from under Ser Roddick's huge brown beard. But he looked to be smiling.
'I'd go up there with a bag of salt, that'd really fuck 'em up!' boomed a drunken Lord beside Ser Hannock. Everyone laughed and broke off into their own conversations as the music began to play. A sharp crack from the king’s balcony above their heads shot through everyone. Nana jumped in her seat. The music stopped playing. Suddenly the doors creaked open. Through the central corridor between the vertical tables Tywin could see two of the kings Black Guard dragging a chained man up the steps and into the Halls of Heroes. He barely looked alive anymore as they dragged him into the middle of the hall, torn, muddied rags hanging from his tanned muscular skin. Medium lengths of brown knotted hair fell around his unshaven face, eyes sunken deep within his skull. Everyone was silent as the Guard's threw him to the marble floor. The chained manacles around his hands and ankles clinking loudly as he fell, unable to brace his fall.
'This is Ronnald Fitzrobert,' spoke the king above Tywin's head. His voice was like nothing he had ever heard, smooth as polished glass, cold as ice. But it could be warm...It could. 'Where is my Phoenix Knight?' his heart jumped. He wants me!
'Here Your Grace!' he answered immediately firing from his chair.
'Step forward, I wish to see you,' eager to please him Tywin jumped onto his chair, leaping from it like a stone cat and grabbing hold of the carved dragons head at the balcony’s base he swung out landing in the large gap between the tables. 'Ah there you are,' he said without a smile as Tywin kneeled. 'As I was saying this is Ronnald Fitzrobert, the son of a carpenter from the Boar Isle,' some of the crowd laughed. Tywin heard one man mutter 'Pig rammer.' 'I took him into my army...fed him...put a roof over his head and coin in his pocket...yet he still deserted. Tywin what is the punishment for desertion?' No. Oh by the Gods please no. 'Tywin?'
'Death...Your Grace...' he croaked from the floor. The king said nothing else, even when Tywin looked up to the man that had saved his life his violet eyes just stared back, a ghost of a smile across his lips. 'I...I have no sword Your Grace...' without even letting the king make a reply one of his Black Guard thrust a blade at him handle first. Tears were welling in his eyes. The deserter behind him had sat up onto the back of his legs. A good knight follows the rule of his king; a good knight follows the rule of his king. He kept saying over and over and over again.
'What's the matter Tywin? Do you want to be a good knight?' that pushed tears from him.
'Yes Your Grace.' he whispered, rising...unsheathing the sword.
'Do you have any last words Ronnald Fitzrobert?' Tywin turned to the deserter and looked at him. He looked no older than that servant girl Mary, strong of arm and handsome in his face. Tears falling down his cheeks Tywin for some reason couldn't take his eyes from him. Ronnald was smiling at him. A gentle, loving smile.
'I'm no coward!' he declared loudly. 'I'm sorry son.' he said quiet enough so only Tywin could hear. A good knight follows the rule of his king, a good knight follows the rule of his king, a good knight follows the rule of his king!
'Would you like to stand?' squeaked Tywin. Ronnald smiled.
'Would that I could, they broke my legs.' More tears flew. As Tywin drew his sword back over his shoulder Ronnald never took his eyes from his, he lifted his chin better exposing his neck. A good knight follows the rule of his king, he swung. The resistance was minor as Tywin parted Ronnald Fitzrobert's head from his body. A good knight...a good knight...