Chapter One: A Game of Drones
It was one of those mornings. You know how it is when old chums get together? Last night had been several times worse than that, the upshot of which being that I woke with a fair approximation of the Doom of Valyria settled in between the old temples.
Troubling pictures haunted my memory. I was unable to shake an image of Oofy Littlefinger attempting to perform an act not ordinarily associated with domestic fowl. A sordid affair, no doubt, but one must needs when needs must, or however the old saying goes, when the schoolmates are assembled.
And when one’s family regards one as a bit of a dead loss, as I admit that mine do, one can’t complain if the boon companions of one’s youth aren’t of quite the same water as those that you get knocking about the finer jousting academies. My brother Jamie always says that I was lucky that they didn’t pack me off to the Wall and have done with it.
In my darker moments, I sometimes wonder if he were wrong. Certainly the sunlight couldn’t be this painfully bright in the North. And there seemed to be a sort of phantom that moved here and there about the chamber of its own volition, looking for all the world like a girl.
I have no objection to girls in their place, which for a man of my standing is generally somewhere in the vicinity of a receipt. As long as they don’t start mooning about dragons like that dippy blonde something-or-other – could never pronounce it – too many ‘y’s – or lording it over a chap, like certain sisters which the code of chivalry and the old feudal spirit prevent me from mentioning, except to note that they have a way of looking at their own flesh and blood that could put a chap off his whoring.
“My lord,” said the vision, wavering in a far from unattractive manner before my throbbing eyeballs. “A raven has arrived for you.”
“Not more bad news from the North?” Not Ned Stark! Always moping about like a direwolf with a secret sorrow. Winter can’t come fast enough, if you ask me.
“Try this, my lord,” said the vision. “It’s a little recipe of my own invention.” A goblet had somehow found its way into my hand, and, with all the ancestral courage of the Lannisters, I manfully got myself around the contents. It seemed to bear a family resemblance to a detonated beefsteak, and within three or four heart-stopping moments, I found that my head had cleared, my stomach had settled, and my spirits were well and truly braced. I got out of bed feeling five feet tall.
“I say,” I exclaimed, when I had regained the power of speech. “What did you say your name was?”
“Shaeves,” she said, with a smile that went all the way down to there and back again.
“Shaeves, eh? And the raven?”
“It’s from Casterly Rock, my lord. The message bears the seal of A. Lannister.”
“In that case I may need you to whip up another round of that delightful tonic. Perhaps with a small cask of wine as an afterthought.” People can say what they like about strong female characters, but I suspect that they are people who’ve never met my Aunt Agatha.