16 Chapter 16: All in Our Grasp - 106 AC

Bartimos Celtigar was taken aback by the unexpected news that reached him from his ancestral seat on Claw Isle. He found himself amidst a grand feast and jousting spectacle at King's Landing, with golden treasures stored aboard his vessel, the Iron Claw, intended as gifts for the king. However, in the midst of this revelry, the maester of King's Landing approached him, bearing a crucial missive. The contents of the message were none other than the announcement that Clement was to be wedded to Lady Laena Velaryon.

Driven by an unparalleled urgency, Bartimos bid his farewells to the king prematurely, hastily embarking on his ship's voyage to Claw Isle. Now, the vessel stood anchored in the bustling port of Brackyore, with Bartimos standing resolutely on its deck. As he surveyed his surroundings, he beheld the sight of his ancestral fleet, warships from House Celtigar, undergoing meticulous preparations. Men-at-arms scurried about the port, already donning their armor, diligently loading barrels of weaponry and arrows onto the awaiting ships.

At that moment, Bartimos descended towards the harbor's platform, greeted by a couple of loyal household knights, who had eagerly awaited his arrival. His son, dressed in a robe adorned with the distinctive Celtigar insignia, stood near the carriage.

"Father," Clement offered a slight bow. "I trust the voyage transpired smoothly."

Bartimos scrutinized his son's countenance, detecting no trace of remorse. "You have indeed taken my counsel to heart."

"You urged me to marry with haste," Clement nonchalantly shrugged. "And I have fulfilled your wish."

A weary sigh escaped Bartimos' lips. "And Lord Corlys...?"

"He resides within the castle," Clement replied, his voice humming with assurance. "Accompanied by numerous other Velaryons that had just arrived a couple days ago."

Bartimos gestured towards the gathering warships near the shoreline. "And these warships? Will you depart as soon as you wed?"

Clement shook his head. "We're to sail at the near end of the year. These men will train around the coast."

"I see," Bartimos mused. "Let us proceed. I want to meet him without delay."

"As you wish, father," Clement acquiesced.


Within the confines of the carriage, traversing the outskirts of the town and journeying toward the majestic castle, Clement found himself seated opposite his father. His countenance bore the weight of stress and partial astonishment, his hands resting anxiously upon his lap while his legs tapped incessantly against the carriage floor.

"What of the wedding, then?" Bartimos inquired with a furrowed brow. "Have you made the requisite arrangements? The majority of the neighboring lords remain entrenched in King's Landing, making it arduous to extend them invitations."

"We had intended for a modest affair, with only kinfolk as esteemed guests," Clement responded. "A septon has been summoned, the one hailing from Brackyore. Furthermore, the maester is diligently finalizing the necessary documents to be dispatched to Oldtown."

"And you have accomplished all of this without seeking my consent?" Bartimos interjected, his tone laced with authority. "I am your father, my son, not a mere regent whose position you shall usurp upon reaching adulthood."

"Forgive me, Father," Clement sincerely said. "I apprehend that this matter demands your involvement. However... the opportunity stands before us, and I cannot tarry as you set sail for Claw Isle, for time is an unrecoverable commodity."

"I comprehend the workings of your mind, truly I do," Bartimos sighed wearily. "It has been almost six long years since witnessing your astute governance of the town, and there exists no doubt within me that you shall flourish as a distinguished lord in my stead. Yet, observing you in this moment, in stark contrast to the many years you spent confined to your bed, writhing in agony due to your affliction, I find myself struggling… to adapt. Your childhood dreams of ambition for our house resound in my ears, and now you gradually, yet assuredly, realize those very aspirations. And to witness you entering into a marriage... I yearn for your mother to witness this momentous occasion."

Clement fell silent, fixing his gaze upon Bartimos. "I… too wish that to be true. Even if I don't know her at all. Have I… acted too hastily, perhaps? Do you want me to postpone it?"

"No," Bartimos chuckled softly, shaking his head. "You have acquitted yourself commendably. I am certain I shall soon hear the tale of how you sway Lord Corlys to bestow his daughter upon you. For I daresay he shall not relinquish her for a mere couple of dozen vessels and a paltry thousand men."

Clement's lips curved into a serene smile as he listened to his father's words, choosing not to prolong the conversation any further. The scene outside the window captivated Bartimos' attention, drawing his gaze to a gathering of dragons congregating on an empty patch of land near the castle. The magnificent creatures stood there, creating an awe-inspiring spectacle. A host of men laboriously herded a substantial multitude of cows and sheep towards the area, evidently intending to sate the voracious appetites of these majestic reptilian beasts.

At present, three dragons commanded attention: the colossal Vhagar, the fiery Red Queen Meleys, and Seasmoke, the recently tamed mount of Laenor Velaryon, now ready to be ridden after years of training and bonding.

"Dragons in our isle…" Bartimos let out a sigh, his voice infused with a touch of weariness. "Ever since Aegon the Conqueror, I don't think any dragons have landed on our shores until now."

"And soon, some will stay permanently." Clement said.

Curiosity piqued, Bartimos inquired, his voice tinged with a mixture of intrigue and caution, "Son, are you really considering embarking on this audacious endeavor? Merely to beseech the crown for a dragon for your children... Even the great houses would find such a feat impossible."

Comprehending the magnitude of his father's concerns, Clement nodded thoughtfully, acknowledging the formidable nature of the task at hand. "I understand, father. I recognize the immense challenges that lie before us. But let us not dismiss the realm of possibilities that the future holds."

Bartimos, his voice filled with paternal wisdom, delivered a somber warning. "Remember, my son, that ambition often proves to be a man's downfall. Reflect upon the words I shared with you all those years ago."

"That the crabbers only keep the large, plump, and meaty catch, while the small and scrawny are thrown back into the sea?" Clement hummed. "I remember."

"It still applies. Even to you." Bartimos acknowledged with a nod, his eyes fixed upon the recipient of his words. "But unlike me, I can see that you're destined for greatness. You are a reflection of the very essence encapsulated in our house's words. Your insatiable hunger for legacy and wealth rivals that of a ravenous swarm of famished crabs," he proclaimed, his gaze shifting to his son, while subtly arching his brow in jest. "Or perchance, do not regale me with the notion that you have forsaken these words?"

"I did not forget our house's words, father. "Clement chuckled. "All In Our Grasp."

As the carriage approached the imposing castle, Bartimos's gaze fell upon a ghastly sight—a man's severed head impaled on a spike, positioned prominently at the front gates. The lifeless face belonged to a Braavosi, evoking a deep frown from the lord. The carriage came to a halt as it passed through the gates, and Clement dutifully opened the door, allowing Bartimos to alight. Leading the way, Bartimos was met with a peculiar scene unfolding before the entrance of his own castle. Standing there were Corlys Velaryon, the Sea Snake, alongside Princess Rhaenys, their heir, young Laenor, and Laena, who was destined to become his son's wife. Descending the carriage steps, Bartimos traversed the ground, making his way towards the Velaryon entourage.

"Greetings, Lord Corlys, Princess," Bartimos addressed them, inclining his head slightly while firmly grasping the Sea Snake's hand. "It seems peculiar that you receive me in my own ancestral home."

Corlys emitted a hearty chuckle. "We shall soon be kin, Lord Bartimos, and thus far, your castle's hospitality has been most gracious."

"Then I am glad." Bartimos responded, a smile gracing his lips. "Shall we continue our conversation within the halls?"

"Lead the way," Corlys acquiesced.


As Bartimos entered the grand hall of audience, his retinue consisted solely of Corlys and Princess Rhaenys, while the younger members of the family were dismissed to retire to their respective chambers. This arrangement ensured an undisturbed space for the "adults" to converse at their leisure. Bartimos chose not to approach the throne; instead, he positioned himself at the heart of the hall, fixing his gaze upon Corlys and the princess. A genial smile, known to grace the countenance of many, adorned his face.

"I have faith that my son did not cause you any offense, Corlys," Bartimos conveyed in his distinct manner.

"No, Bartimos," Corlys responded. "Your son possesses a certain uniqueness, if I may say so."

"Indeed," Bartimos chuckled. "These days, it becomes increasingly arduous to keep pace with his boundless energy. Or perchance, it is our own aging selves that struggle."

"Without a doubt, you possess a remarkable heir," Corlys affirmed, offering a nod of approval. "An heir that any lord would envy. I confess, I arrived here expecting a straightforward negotiation, only to be met with a staggering reminder that even in our twilight years, wisdom remains elusive."

"Yes, you come here for the Stepstones…" Bartimos mused. "Is there truly no way to circumvent this impending conflict?"

"I fear not," Corlys sighed, his countenance reflecting a sense of concern. "With each passing day, the might of the Crabfeeder grows, and should we allow it to flourish unchecked, it will undoubtedly pose a formidable challenge."

"I see," Bartimos nodded solemnly, his countenance revealing a deep comprehension. "So, you plan to embark on your voyage when the year comes to an end?"

Corlys nodded affirmatively. "At present, Prince Daemon is in the process of gathering sellswords, while back home, we are assembling our men-at-arms and equipping our ships."

"That is good news." Bartimos expressed satisfaction, his lips curving into a smile. Then, he turned his attention to Princess Rhaenys. "Princess, may I inquire, are you content with this... arrangement?"

Rhaenys glanced at Corlys, a shared understanding evident in their eyes, before returning her gaze to Bartimos. "I have expressed this sentiment to your brother previously, but upon receiving news of the proposal, I was genuinely surprised. I had believed that you would refuse to assist my husband in his cause."

"Perhaps my former self would have," Bartimos conceded, nodding in agreement. "However, it seems that my son wields considerable influence over me. Have you had the opportunity to become acquainted with him?"

"I have not had the pleasure thus far, but I am confident that we will have ample time to do so," Rhaenys replied, a smile adorning her face. "And according to my lord husband, it appears to be a favorable match for our daughter."

"I am truly relieved to hear your perspective," Bartimos acknowledged. "Then let us have a feast tonight, to celebrate the unification of our two Valyrian houses."


Deep within the confines of Clement's dimly lit study room, the man found himself immersed in a whirlwind of relentless paperwork. Stacks upon stacks of documents lay before him, awaiting his meticulous inspection and authoritative signature. The sun hung high in the sky, casting a somber glow through the open window, where the boisterous wind whispered its ceaseless secrets. His diligent servants had thoughtfully placed a goblet of wine on the desk, a comforting elixir to soothe his weary mind, yet it remained untouched, adhering to his unwavering decree of abstaining from alcohol whilst engrossed in his work.

Without warning, a resounding knock resounded through the room, disrupting Clement's solitary focus. Succumbing to curiosity's seductive call, he granted passage to the visitor, and to his astonishment, Princess Rhaenys graced the threshold. Fresh from an audience with his father, she exuded an air of serene composure, her demeanor ever unshaken.

"Princess," Clement proclaimed, rising from his seat with a touch of surprise. "It is quite unexpected for you to grace me with your presence at this hour."

Rhaenys bestowed a cryptic smile upon Clement, her countenance perpetually inscrutable. "You are to wed my daughter, child. How could I resist the urge to visit you and ascertain your true nature?"

"I see," Clement responded, letting out a light chuckle. "I suppose a mother possesses the prerogative to fret. I implore you, princess, take a seat."

Both individuals settled across from each other, Clement gracefully pouring a cup of wine for the princess, which she graciously declined.

"Your father has spoken highly of you," Rhaenys stated. "And I can discern that you do not squander your time with trivialities."

"Such gracious words from you, princess," Clement replied. "I strive each day to fulfill my duties, for the betterment of my house."

"The betterment of your house?" Rhaenys interjected. "Do you seek glory amidst these towering piles of documents? Or perhaps wealth? Honor? Respect?"

"All of the aforementioned," Clement smiled. "I hold admiration for your husband, a man of ambition willing to employ any means to preserve his family's legacy."

Rhaenys scoffed. "My husband's ambition often proves to be his downfall. I fervently hope that you will not follow in his footsteps, for the sake of my daughter."

Clement raised an eyebrow. "Pardon?"

"You yearn for power, do you not? Respect from other houses," Rhaenys inquired. "By marrying my daughter, your lineage will intertwine with the blood of the dragon, my family's blood."

Clement let out a chuckle. "Well, I cannot deny that it is one of my aspirations."

"At least you are forthright about it. Many lords in this realm would not so blatantly voice such desires," Rhaenys stated. "Laena mentioned that you possess audacity and a straightforward nature, so let us speak candidly."

"Very well," Clement assented, nodding. "Forgive me, princess, but I may be somewhat unacquainted with the sentiments of a mother. As you can surely imagine, I grew up without one."

"A most grievous misfortune, but worry not. What I wish to converse with you about is the course you tread at this very moment," she uttered. "I can discern it... I catch fleeting glimpses of my husband's unyielding resolve within you. A yearning for a lasting legacy. It's not a bad thing, per se. But… Do not cross the line."

"Cross the line?" Clement raised his brow.

"Wealth, legacy, power, respect… All of them can be lost and reobtained " she uttered. "But family… once you lose them, they are lost forever."

"Ah, I see." Clement hummed, nodding his head. "I understand what you mean, princess. You do not need to worry, family comes above all."

"Lords oftentimes espouse noble intentions, yet their deeds often belie their professed beliefs," Rhaenys responded. "Only the passage of time shall unveil whether you, child, fall into that category."

A mirthful chuckle escaped Clement's lips. "In that case, I shall undoubtedly strive to exceed your expectations, princess."


In the depths of the night, Clement positioned himself at the grand Hall of Audience, his figure shrouded by a resplendent cloak bedecked with the insignia of his house. Directly before him stood Laena, adorned in a magnificent white gown, her cascading locks immaculately coiffed, while the distinguished cloak of House Velaryon enwrapped her form. Positioned discreetly in the lady's wake was Corlys, alongside the remaining members of the Velaryon kin, observing with an air of tranquility. In opposition to the Velaryons, the Celtigars assembled a mere trio of figures representing the last of their house—Bartimos, Gromond, and the young Arthor.

The revelries had concluded, a humble and unpretentious feast commemorating the occasion. Yet, swiftly upon its culmination, the septon was summoned forth, signaling the commencement of the ceremonial proceedings.

The septon, garbed in a humble robe befitting his sacred role, made his way towards the soon-to-be wedded couple. With a solemn air, he lifted his hand and uttered, "On this auspicious night, we gather in gratitude and reverence to unite two spirits as one." Drawing nearer to the two individuals, the septon invoked the blessings of the gods upon them, invoking their divine names.

As the septon's oration continued, Corlys delicately removed Laena's cloak, draping it gracefully over his own arm. In response, Clement himself shed his own cloak, tenderly enveloping the lady before him with its protective folds.

Having completed his invocation of the seven, the septon extended his hands towards the couple before him, declaring, "Now, let us bear witness to their vows..."

Clement and Laena closed the distance between them, their countenances drawing near until their lips brushed briefly in a fleeting touch. Their gazes locked, they spoke in unison, their words carrying the weight of commitment.

"With this kiss I pledge my love. For I am yours, and you are mine. Whatever may come."

"In the presence of gods and men," the septon's voice rang out once more, imbued with solemn authority. "I hereby proclaim Clement of House Celtigar and Laena of House Velaryon as man and wife. One flesh. One soul. One heart. Now and forever."

And as the vows were exchanged, the horns of war echoed throughout the hall.

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