Caitlin stood outside the door of the king’s study, hands clasping at the folds of her dress trying to clean her hands of the poor deserter’s blood. The look on Tywin's face broke her heart; he stood there for almost five minutes just staring at his body, covered in his life blood, the borrowed sword trembling in his hands. Nobody said a word, some twisted men attempted to hide smirks; she saw one woman shed a tear. 'Come my knight,' whispered Caitlin as she stood beside him, steadily taking the bloodied sword from his hand. Tywin said nothing. His golden eyes glazed over, fresh tears pouring down his face. Slick red blood covered her hand as she held the sword. 'Alaina take him home...make sure he bathes, I'll be with you after the feast my knight.' Blinking Tywin looked down at his Nana, nodding slowly as Alaina put down the plates she had been carrying from the kitchens and took Tywin's hand.
'Come my lord, I'll run you a nice hot bath...' she said with a sympathetic smile. The feast dissolved after that. Caitlin had been practically running back to Phoenix Tower when two Black Guard's appeared in front of her as she rounded a sharp corner, spears glinting maliciously in the moonlight, eyes dead to any emotion.
'His Grace wishes to see you!' said the tallest sharply. Now she was stood outside a room witch the king himself occupied. Heart thundering in her chest so badly she could see the individual beats through her dress. With a loud creak the wooden door swung inwards. Caitlin jumped. Hands instinctively slipping to the dirk hidden within the folds of her gown. Massive Ser Mandor of the Dragon Guard stood before her, his rough chiselled face frowning down at her, the red ram of his house acid etched into the silver plates of his armour. Grunting with a flick of his head she moved up the final few steps and entered the grand study of the King of the Nine Isles. So many great kings and queens had used this room, stuffed with leather bound books and scrolls from the Times of Dragons she would have loved to have spent just one evening in here on her own. So much knowledge in one room. Each wall of the circular tower room was covered in alcoves for scrolls, papers, books anything that at any time could hold knowledge. The king sat at a table before the roaring fire place, a scarlet quill in his hands signing pieces of paper that his squire handed to him after scanning them with his violet eyes.
The king wore a doublet of fine black silk trimmed with white interlocking patterns along it's bottom most edge. Breeches of rough leather covered his legs and black leather boots polished to a sheen as bright as the brass buckles were planted firm into the slate tiled floor. His sword, Dragonfire, rested in it's sheath against the right arm of the grand leather armchair he sat in. The squire looked at Caitlin with watery yellow eyes, smiled oddly flashing her his tobacco stained teeth before returning to his duties passing the king form after form for him to sign. Caitlin stood a few paces from the carved granite desk, head bowed, waiting for the king to speak first. 'Isn't it customary to curtsy to your king when entering a room Matriarch?' he finally spoke without even looking at her. I would have if you were a true king.
'Your Grace,' she curtsied dutifully trying to make the words sound heartfelt.
'I am worried Matriarch, a terribly worried man.'
'Anything I can do to alleviate your worries Your Grace would be my honour.' she lied.
'Did I say you could speak!' barked the king looking up at her for the first time, fire in his light purple eyes. Caitlin closed her mouth and silently curtsied her apologies. 'I am worried for my son,' continued the king turning back to his letters. He's not your son...he's mine. 'I do not like to see hesitation in my knights, nor do I like to see them blubbering like children either.'
'Death is not an easy thing for a boy of twelve to comprehend, ask him to deal it out himself...' she said staring at the top of the king’s head. Silver blonde hair glittering magically in the firelight behind him.
'It is a thing he must become accustomed to if he is to become a knight, and I killed my first man at twelve. I thought it prudent my son do the same.' He's not your son! Spat Caitlin in her mind.
'Death on the battlefield fighting for the honour and defence of your Isle is one thing Your Grace, asked to take the head of a defenceless kneeling man is quite another.' she said with a slight bite to her words. He stopped signing. Dropping his quill he sat back into his chair. Eyes boring into Caitlin's very soul.
'How goes his studies?'
'Tywin is exceedingly bright, his love for science and literature is beyond that of normal boys his age, he has already beaten the castles chess master several times and...'
'Matriarch let me make this point exceedingly clear.' she said over her, a trace of a smile growing across his thin lips. 'I don't give a fuck about his studies in science or his fairy tales. How does he in weapons training? Battle strategy?' Roddick was right...all he wants is a weapon.
'He's bested your finest knight’s every time Your Grace, battle strategy is one of his strongest assets. He can recite every great battle of the past five centuries and tell you how they defeated their enemies.' sighed Caitlin. Such an amazing, wonderful boy and all you want is him to fight your battles so you don't have too. Baelor Barristan seemed pleased with that.
'I'm glad to hear it. Have him start training with metal blades,'
'He already is Your Grace.' interrupted Caitlin rudely.
'Very good! Well sharpen them,' he smiled briefly. 'A knight is nothing without a proper sword in his hands.' With one fluid movement the king grabbed the handle of Dragonfire, pulling it free of its gilded sheath. It was a beautiful blade, even from several feet away Caitlin could clearly see the tiny swirls in the metal were it had been folded and folded and folded countless times during its forging. The metal was special. A dull black that never lost it's sharpness and it was said only a giant could snap a blade made of this rare metal. It was rarely found, but when it was a lump the size of Caitlin's fist could have bought anyone a castle and a lordship. Starsteel they called it. The knowledge of how to smelt starsteel was long lost to the world, but a few dozen weapons existed from the ancient days. Passed down through the generations. 'Beautiful is it not?'
'Stunning Your Grace,' admitted Caitlin. The handle of Dragonfire was wrapped in read leather with a large carved dragon head as its pommel, mataching the double headed handgaurd, each of the carved steel dragon heads with their crimson ruby eyes roaring silent cries to the world for eternity.
'I took the blade from a lord in the Gold Isle, politicians have no use for such fine wonders. And what of the name Matriarch? Dragonfire.' the king rested his sword across his lap. Staring intently at Caitlin. Is this a threat?
'All the best swords have names my king.' she said simply.
'Quite... did your father have a sword?' he said smoothly.
'My father was a farmer in Garden Isle Your Grace,' she lied. Even as she spoke she pictured her father carrying his massive starsteel sword, the blade resting on its broadside across his shoulder.
'I see.' he smiled. She didn't like that. Turning to his squire he beckoned him away, bowing low the ugly man with the watery eyes left, followed by every soldier in the room. Leaving Caitlin alone with the king. Standing the king reached over his desk, picked up a stick of black wax with golden flakes and steadily began to melt it over the candle on his desk. 'I heard that you were sitting with Ser Roddick Barly at the feast,' he said dripping the wax onto the bottom corners of each piece of parchment.
'That's true Your Grace,'
'You and he are old friends I am told.'
'Yes Your Grace,' Where’s he going with this?
'I know the boy won't understand why I had him kill the deserter, but he will...in time. I also heard the words he spoke of the northmen. He is wonderfully misguided, a fact he will be sure to learn if they ever dare march against us, you see Matriarch traitors...deserters, thieves, rapists. They are all the same...and deserve the same fate.'
'Your Grace I...'
'Don't fucking speak!' he bellowed glaring at her. Caitlin jumped, her hand tightening around the antler hilt of her dirk. When each of the documents had a blob of wax in the corner the king began to punch his sygil ring into the wax with unnecessary force. Sending a loud crack echoing through the study. 'If the northmen march on my kingdom,' crack. 'I will kill every single one of them,' crack. 'Traitors bread like rats,' crack. 'The only way to stop the spread,' crack. 'Extermination. I fear there may even be traitors in this castle,' crack. 'And if there are, I won't kill them straight away,' crack. The king looked up to her. Rage boiling up through his eyes. 'I'll slaughter those they love most,' crack! 'Do you see that as fair Matriarch?' Controlling the tears she felt brewing in her eyes she forced herself to stare into the eyes of the tyrant that ruled her kingdom.
'Yes Your Grace.' she whispered.
'Good...' a smile broke the white marble of his emotionless face for just a moment before vanishing back into marble. 'You may leave, and give my approvals to the boy.'
'Of course Your Grace.' Turning she dignifiedly left the study. Shutting the door behind her. But then she ran. Sprinted like a crazed woman through the castles winding corridors, her feet taking her to the person she needed most. Bursting into his large home to the back of the training area one of his handmaids squealed in shock. 'Ser Roddick...where is he I must see him immediately!'
'Caitlin?' his deep voice rumbled from the stone stair case, his huge sword in his hands. Running to him she threw her arms around him. 'What is it?!'
'The king knows about what you said...he's threatened to kill you, and Tywin!' she whispered into his ear. 'I think he knows about me as well.'
'We have to get Tywin out of the castle...off Jade Isle.'
'There's some men in the city...they can help. Friends of mine.'
'When do you want him out?' he whispered.