“Oh, yes.” The porridge was too thick, Tyrion felt, and wanted butter and honey. To be sure, butter and honey were seldom seen in King’s Landing of late, though Lord Gyles kept them well supplied in the castle. Half of the food they ate these days came from his lands or Lady Tanda’s. Rosby and Stokeworth lay near the city to the north, and were yet untouched by war.
“The Prince of Dorne, himself. Might I ask . . .”
“As you say.” Pycelle’s curiosity was so ripe that Tyrion could almost taste it. “Mayhaps . . . the king’s council . . .”
Tyrion tapped his wooden spoon against the edge of the bowl. “The council exists to advise the king, Maester.”
“Just so,” said Pycelle, “and the king—”
“—is a boy of thirteen. I speak with his voice.”
“So you do. Indeed. The King’s Own Hand. Yet . . . your most gracious sister, our Queen Regent, she . . .”
“. . . bears a great weight upon those lovely white shoulders of hers. I have no wish to add to her burdens. Do you?” Tyrion cocked his head and gave the Grand Maester an inquiring stare.
Pycelle dropped his gaze back to his food. Something about Tyrion’s mismatched green-and-black eyes made men squirm; knowing that, he made good use of them. “Ah,” the old man muttered into his plums. “Doubtless you have the right of it, my lord. It is most considerate of you to . . . spare her this . . . burden.”
“That’s just the sort of fellow I am.” Tyrion returned to the unsatisfactory porridge. “Considerate. Cersei is my own sweet sister, after all.”
“And a woman, to be sure,” Grand Maester Pycelle said. “A most uncommon woman, and yet . . . it is no small thing, to tend to all the cares of the realm, despite the frailty of her sex . . .”
Oh, yes, she’s a frail dove, just ask Eddard Stark. “I’m pleased you share my concern. And I thank you for the hospitality of your table. But a long day awaits.” He swung his legs out and clambered down from his chair. “Be so good as to inform me at once should we receive a reply from Dorne?”
“As you say, my lord.”
“And only me?”
“Ah . . . to be sure.” Pycelle’s spotted hand was clutching at his beard the way a drowning man clutches for a rope. It made Tyrion’s heart glad. One, he thought.
He waddled out into the lower bailey; his stunted legs complained of the steps. The sun was well up now, and the castle was stirring. Guardsmen walked the walls, and knights and men-at-arms were training with blunted weapons. Nearby, Bronn sat on the lip of a well. A pair of comely serving girls sauntered past carrying a wicker basket of rushes between them, but the sellsword never looked. “Bronn, I despair of you.” Tyrion gestured at the wenches. “With sweet sights like that before you, all you see is a gaggle of louts raising a clangor.”
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