YEAR 298 AC
King's Landing, capital of the Seven Kingdoms...
Bells ring out in the capital city of King’s Landing. Lord Jon Arryn of the Eyrie, Warden of the East and Hand of the King, had unexpectedly passed away. As his body lay in the throne room, the Silent Sisters prepare his body for burial. Elsewhere, in the balcony where the noble ladies of the court stand, Queen Cersei of House Lannister is seen contemplating as she leans against the edge of the railing, taking a moment to observe Lord Arryn’s corpse.
The sound of someone’s approaching footsteps break her concentration. The person in question is revealed to be her twin brother, Ser Jaime Lannister. One of the most skilled swordsmen in all of Westeros, Jaime was appointed as the youngest member of the Kingsguard at age 15 to the last of the Targaryen kings, Aerys the Second of His Name. Unfortunately, he gained an infamous reputation throughout the Seven Kingdoms as “Kingslayer” (much to his irritation) for stabbing King Aerys in the back and killing him at the foot of the Iron Throne itself, thereby breaking his sworn vows to protect him.
As Jaime leans against the edge, he looks to counsel his twin sister. “As your brother, I feel it’s my duty to warn you: You worry too much. It’s starting to show.”
“And you never worry about anything,” Cersei responds. “When we were 7, you jumped off the cliffs at Casterly Rock. A 100-foot drop into the water. And you were never afraid.”
“There was nothing to be afraid of until you told father,” Jaime said humorously before deepening his tone of voice to imitate their father. “‘We’re Lannisters. And Lannisters don’t act like fools.’”
Cersei smiles before taking another look at Jon Arryn.
“What if Jon Arryn told someone?” she asks.
“But who would he tell?” says Jaime.
“My husband,” Cersei answers despondently.
Jaime merely shrugged his shoulders. “If he told the king, both our heads would be skewered on the city gates by now. Whatever Jon Arryn knew or didn’t know, it died with him. And Robert will choose a new Hand of the King, someone to do his job while he’s off fucking boars and hunting whores. Or is it the other way around? And life will go on.”
“You should be Hand of the King,” Cersei offers.
“That’s an honor I can do without,” Jaime shakes his head. “Their days are too long, their lives are too short.”
In his chambers stood the Crown Prince and heir to the Iron Throne, Daveth Baratheon.
He had been busy packing whatever necessities are required for the journey to Winterfell in the North, expecting the climate to be rather cold. Standing in front of a mirror to properly tuck his royal attire, He didn’t let the expression on his face to show, but deep down Daveth still had a hard time coping with Jon Arryn’s death; the Lord of the Eyrie was like a second grandfather to him. Wise and prudent, Jon essentially tutored Daveth on how to rule and often presided over Small Council meetings together with Lord Arryn since his own father, King Robert of the House Baratheon, First of His Name, King of the Andals and the First Men, Lord of the Seven Kingdoms and Protector of the Realm, had no particular interest in ruling his kingdom and was more than happy to pass on the responsibilities to Lord Arryn and his eldest son despite the youth’s age. Since then, popular rumors began to circulate that it was Daveth who really ruled the Seven Kingdoms in practice if not in name.
A true protégé of his maternal grandfather Lord Tywin Lannister, Daveth appeared to possess an extreme level of intellect and cunning, allowing him to outmaneuver his political rivals such as Petyr Baelish and even his own mother Cersei Lannister with relative ease. At an incredibly fast pace, Daveth had demonstrated such great promise as a highly capable administrator and skilled warrior in his own right with a reputation for achieving efficient yet effective results in a short amount of time without reneging his word. As such, he is known throughout Westeros as the “Oathkeeper.” Daveth cared little about nicknames or what other people thought of him.
Unfortunately his fame and reputation caused a tense rift to develop between him and his father King Robert and the two became estranged. The royal court would soon divided into two rival factions between those who supported the Prince and had the good of the realm in mind and opportunistic sycophants who supported the King who felt increasingly threatened by his son’s rapidly growing power and influence.
His thoughts were broken by a knock on the door.
“Come in,” Daveth answers.
The door opens and in steps in Bernadette, a handmaiden to Daveth’s mother Queen Cersei. She politely bows her head.
“Forgive my intrusion, my Prince. But the Queen has requested your presence at the gates.”
Daveth nods in acknowledgment. “Very well. Tell her I am on my way.”
Bernadette bows once more and leaves to inform Cersei. Daveth grabs his belongings and inhales sharply through his nostrils.
'And so it begins,' he thought. 'The search for a new Hand.’
At the city gates...
Upon exiting the city gates, soldiers holding the Baratheon and Lannister sigils accompanied the carriage carrying most of the royal family, with the exception of King Robert and Prince Daveth – who instead chose to ride up front mounted on their horses. The royal party had long departed for the long march to the North on the Kingsroad.
“This would’ve been going a lot faster if we didn’t have any certain baggage slowing us down!” Robert gruffly complained.
“Come now, father, I’m sure you wouldn’t even consider leaving our family behind, would you? We have a long road ahead of us, so certainly it wouldn’t hurt to at least maintain a steady pace so the others can keep up.”
“Bah! Seven Hells, sometimes you’re just like your mother! The sooner we get there, the sooner I’ll have food and wine in my belly!”
Daveth shook his head in annoyance. Although a loyal, dutiful and respectful son, Daveth was greatly irritated by his father’s penchant for drinking and sleeping with any pretty woman whenever he could. It was no secret that Daveth hated Robert for emotionally (sometimes physically) abusing Cersei and his unapologetic marital infidelities. He knew how poorly his father treated his mother and how unhappy their marriage was. Daveth learned the difference between right and wrong as he was often exposed to heated arguments and occasional beatings no matter how hard Cersei tried to hide it from him; since then, Daveth swore to be a different kind of king and vowed not to be like a man Robert was.
His relationship with his mother, on the other hand, was sometimes complex. At times Cersei adored Daveth and held him close, other times Cersei would treat him coolly and once in a while scowled at him without warning – something Daveth felt was because of how his very presence reminded Cersei of her failed, unhappy marriage.
Joffrey, his younger brother and second in line to the Iron Throne after him, was an arrogant, sadistic fop with a massive sense of entitlement. Everyone in King’s Landing knew how they hated each other for many years – in his eyes, Daveth was everything that Joffrey was not and vastly superior: Daveth was respected by the other lords and well-loved by his subjects, fiercely intelligent, a brilliant administrator and a powerful warrior – having been trained by their uncle Jaime Lannister and Ser Barristan Selmy, the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard. Joffrey had none of Daveth’s traits and was only skilled with a crossbow; Joffrey was clearly jealous of and envied his older brother’s successes.
On the other hand, his younger siblings, Myrcella and Tommen, idolized Daveth. He cared deeply about them (and vice-versa) and helped his mother raise them ever since they were born. He took care of them and played with them whenever he could. Whenever he had to tend to royal functions outside of King’s Landing or negotiate trade deals for extended periods of time, the two younger blonde-haired children were always the first ones to greet Daveth – always happy to see their big brother.
He could say that he’s on well enough terms with his paternal uncles, Lords Stannis and Renly Baratheon – even though they saw each other on a daily basis. Renly at times gave Daveth a headache, with Stannis noticing the prince takes his duties more seriously than any of his brothers.
From his mother’s side of House Lannister, Daveth respects his uncles Jaime and Tyrion. Jaime helped teach Daveth how to use a sword and was left aghast with his nephew’s performance in a tournament held in King’s Landing last year. When Daveth received his knighthood on his sixteenth nameday, his father King Robert was insistent on staging a tournament (the first and perhaps only time the Stag King was proud of his son). The joust had ended and all that remained was the melee. The match between Daveth and Ser Jaime lasted almost an hour and, albeit both competitors were left utterly exhausted after matching each other blow-for-blow, the Young Stag stunned all in attendance by defeating the Golden Lion despite the youth’s lack of experience. Daveth could’ve sworn he’d wounded Jaime’s pride that day, though he couldn’t really tell.
Tyrion was more approachable and, despite his dwarfism, Daveth could tell there was potential in his uncle where he could further hone his talents – provided he’d stop his lewdness. Even so, Daveth did appreciate the history books Tyrion gave him such as The History of the Greater and the Lesser Houses and Lives of Four Kings – as they kept his wits sharp.
His grandfather, Lord Tywin Lannister, was someone even Daveth had to take seriously and always headed the Old Lion’s counsel. The Lord of Casterly Rock and Warden of the West commanded a very powerful presence and easily intimidated those around him. In their encounter, Tywin spoke with his grandson (albeit it felt like an interrogation with the way the Old Lion was looking at him) and Daveth was sure to answer whatever questions his grandfather hurled at him. When their visit to Casterly Rock was over, to his surprise, King Robert and Queen Cersei received a message from Lord Tywin’s brother Ser Kevan Lannister that Tywin was impressed with the boy’s vast knowledge and sought to educate him.
Daveth’s thoughts were interrupted when his father spoke again.
“Boy! Did you not hear a word I’ve said?” Robert demanded.
“Yes, father,” Daveth answered.
“Good. Because I tire of all this riding. Go on and scout ahead and inform me of how what you find. I’d like to know much further Winterfell is.”
Daveth nodded and galloped on his horse to the nearest hill. Once at the top, he took a moment to scout the area. After a long ten minutes, Daveth spotted faint but light snow on the horizon. They’ve been on the Kingsroad for more than a month now, and it seems their primary destination was within sight. Once calculating the distance and the time it would take to arrive, Daveth hurried on back to King Robert.
“Well?” he asked.
“Given the current pace and the depths of the terrain, we should be able to arrive at Winterfell within a fortnight.”
“Good. At least you’re good for something.”
Daveth gritted his teeth at his father’s words, but held his tongue.
“I suppose it shouldn’t come as a surprise. The North is, after all, the largest region in all of the Seven Kingdoms in Westeros. Ride 200 miles to the west, you’re still in the North. 10 miles to east, you’re still in the North. 50 miles to the south, you’re still in the North. It’s enough to fit in the other six kingdoms.”
Robert nodded. “Aye, though must has changed the last time I saw it. But hopefully not too much. Ned’ll probably be as fast given how long it’s been since we met.”
Daveth raised his eyebrows. 'Lord Eddard Stark? So… you intend to name him as Lord Arryn’s replacement?’
Robert took notice. “What, boy? You disapprove?”
Daveth shook his head and came up with a clever retort. “Not at all. It’s just… it’s been more than nine years since we last set foot in Winterfell, father. Kind of leaves one feeling sentimental, you know?”
“That it does,” Robert nodded in agreement. “I’m only doing this because Ned’s the last friend in this world I trust. The only one left.”
“Do you think he’ll accept?” Daveth asks.
“He will. Besides, I’m the king. And I get whatever I want. Now come on, let’s get moving.”
As the two of them began to resume their march, Daveth had been contemplating of what kind of reunion he’d expect in Winterfell. From what he remembers, Daveth seemed to recall his father and Ned Stark as having been childhood friends – like his was with Ned’s eldest son and heir, Robb. And Daveth only knew what Robert’s words meant when he said that; surely there was bound to be trouble on the horizon and there were few allies left in the capital he could turn to for help. Still, as heir to the throne Daveth will continue to play his part… for the greater good.