“All this of snakes and incest is droll, but it changes nothing. You may well have the better claim, Stannis, but I still have the larger army.” Renly’s hand slid inside his cloak. Stannis saw, and reached at once for the hilt of his sword, but before he could draw steel his brother produced . . . a peach. “Would you like one, brother?” Renly asked, smiling. “From Highgarden. You’ve never tasted anything so sweet, I promise you.” He took a bit. Juice ran from the corner of his mouth.
“I did not come here to eat fruit.” Stannis was fuming.
“My lords!” Catelyn said. “We ought to be hammering out the terms of an alliance, not trading taunts.”
“A man should never refuse to taste a peach,” Renly said as he tossed the stone away. “He may never get the chance again. Life is short, Stannis. Remember what the Starks say. Winter is coming.” He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.
“I did not come here to be threatened, either.”
“Nor were you,” Renly snapped back. “When I make threats, you’ll know it. If truth be told, I’ve never liked you, Stannis, but you are my own blood, and I have no wish to slay you. So if it is Storm’s End you want, take it . . . as a brother’s gift. As Robert once gave it to me, I give it to YOU.”
“It is not yours to give. It is mine by rights.”
Sighing, Renly half turned in the saddle. “What am I to do with this brother of mine, Brienne? He refuses my peach, he refuses my castle, he even shunned my wedding . . .”
“We both know your wedding was a mummer’s farce. A year ago you were scheming to make the girl one of Robert’s whores.”
“A year ago I was scheming to make the girl Robert’s queen,” Renly said, “but what does it matter? The boar got Robert and I got Margaery. You’ll be pleased to know she came to me a maid.”
“In your bed she’s like to die that way.”
“Oh, I expect I’ll get a son on her within the year. Pray, how many sons do you have, Stannis? Oh, yes—none.” Renly smiled innocently. “As to your daughter, I understand. If my wife looked like yours, I’d send my fool to service her as well.”
“Enough!” Stannis roared. “I will not be mocked to my face, do you hear me? I will not!” He yanked his longsword from its scabbard. The steel gleamed strangely bright in the wan sunlight, now red, now yellow, now blazing white. The air around it seemed to shimmer, as if from heat.
Catelyn’s horse whinnied and backed away a step, but Brienne moved between the brothers, her own blade in hand. “Put up your steel!” she shouted at Stannis.
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