“For the eyes of Doran Martell, Prince of Dorne.” Tyrion peeled the cracked shell away from his egg and took a bite. It wanted salt. “One letter, in two copies. Send your swiftest birds. The matter is of great import.”
“I shall dispatch them as soon as we have broken our fast.”
“Dispatch them now. Stewed plums will keep. The realm may not. Lord Renly is leading his host up the roseroad, and no one can say when Lord Stannis will sail from Dragonstone.”
Pycelle blinked. “If my lord prefers—”
“I am here to serve.” The maester pushed himself ponderously to his feet his chain of office clinking softly. It was a heavy thing, a dozen maester’s collars threaded around and through each other and ornamented with gemstones. And it seemed to Tyrion that the gold and silver and platinum links far outnumbered those of baser metals.
Pycelle moved so slowly that Tyrion had time to finish his egg and taste the plums—overcooked and watery, to his taste— before the sound of wings prompted him to rise. He spied the raven, dark in the dawn sky, and turned briskly toward the maze of shelves at the far end of the room.
The maester’s medicines made an impressive display; dozens of pots sealed with wax, hundreds of stoppered vials, as many milkglass bottles, countless jars of dried herbs, each container neatly labeled in Pycelle’s precise hand. An orderly mind, Tyrion reflected, and indeed, once you puzzled out the arrangement, it was easy to see that every potion had its place. And such interesting things. He noted sweetsleep and nightshade, milk of the poppy, the tears of Lys, powdered greycap, wolfsbane and demon’s dance, basilisk venom, blindeye, widow’s blood . . .
Standing on his toes and straining upward, he managed to pull a small dusty bottle off the high shelf. When he read the label, he smiled and slipped it up his sleeve.
He was back at the table peeling another egg when Grand Maester Pycelle came creeping down the stairs. “It is done, my lord.” The old man seated himself. “A matter like this . . . best done promptly, indeed, indeed . . . of great import, you say?”
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