Tower of the Hand

Book 4, Chapter 29.
Cersei meets with the new High Septon and agrees to restore the militant orders of the Faith in return for a blessing for Tommen and forgiveness of the crown's debt.
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As Cersei rides in a carriage up Visenya's Hill with Taena, Ser Osmund rides ahead to make the people give way. Taena tells her that Margaery keeps a lively court of jugglers, mummers, poets, puppets, and singers. The singers include Hamish the Harper, Alaric of Eysen, and the Blue Bard. Cersei remembers the Blue Bard from Tommen's wedding and wonders whether he might be intimate with Margaery. She asks if Margaery is still a virgin, and Taena replies that the queen claims she is, but Taena is not so sure. There are many household knights who frequent her chambers as well, including Ser Horas and Ser Hobber, Ser Tallad, Ser Lambert, Ser Bayard Norcross, Ser Courtenay Greenhill, Ser Portifer Woodwright, and Ser Lucatine Woodwright. Grand Maester Pycelle is also a frequent visitor, as is Jalabhar Xho. Others call on her cousins as well, but Ser Loras comes most frequently of all, every morning and night. Cersei is on her way to see the new High Septon, who is one of the sparrows. The carriage suddenly stops as Ser Osmund roars for a group of people to make way. Cersei calls over Ser Meryn, who explains that a group of sparrows is blocking the way. The High Septon has refused to bless Tommen, probably because Cersei has stopped payment of the crown's debt to the Faith. Septons Torbert and Raynard had been very understanding before the new High Septon was chosen, unlike Noho, who hounded Lord Gyles so fiercely that he has taken to his bed. Still, Cersei is determined to have her dromonds so that she does not have to depend on House Redwyne for naval support. The flagship, Lord Tywin, will dip eight hundred oars, to be followed by Sweet Cersei, Brave Joffrey, Lady Joanna, Lioness, Queen Margaery, Golden Rose, Lord Renly, Lady Olenna, and Princess Myrcella. The last five were named by Tommen, who wanted to name the Princess Myrcella after Moon Boy until Aurane suggested that men might not like serving on a ship named after a fool. The carriage has still not resumed moving, and Cersei peaks out, only to behold hundreds of sparrows encamped on the path to the Great Sept. Ser Osmund rides up with Ser Osfryd, who now commands the city watch. Pycelle led the small council in disapproving of the choice and demanding a more seasoned commander, but Cersei would not be dissuaded. Cersei decides she will walk the rest of the way. The sparrows stare at her sullenly as she passes. She is appalled to see that the statue of Baelor is covered waist-deep in bones. One of the sparrows explains that they are the bones of those who have been killed for the Faith. Cersei promises that they will be avenged, but the sparrows want the crown to defend the Faith and for all true knights to forsake their worldly masters for the faith. At the entrance to the sept, a group of armed men bar her way. She is surprised Raynard and Torbert are not there to fawn over her. The leader of the guard tells Osmund and Meryn to remove their swordbelts to enter. They refuse, and Cersei defuses the situation by having them wait outside and entering alone.

Inside, she sees many men on their hands and knees cleaning. She mistakes them for sparrows, until Septon Raynard raises his head. Cersei is appalled, as the High Septon gets up from the floor and says that hard work is a form of prayer. She asks where Torbert is and learns that he has been confined to a penitent's cell and placed on a diet of bread and water since it is not right for a man to be so plump when so many are starving. Cersei is furious that he did not meet her on the steps in his finest robes with his crown in his head. He explains that he sold the crown and all the other treasure of the Faith to purchase food for the poor. Cersei thinks he must be mad and wonders how the Most Devout could chose him. Qyburn reported that Luceon had been nine votes short when the sparrows had broken down the doors of the sept and filed in with their leader on their shoulders and axes in their hands. Cersei asks whether they may speak in private, and he leads her into the sept proper, where they kneel before the Crone as they confer. She tells him the sparrows must leave and go back whenever they came, but the High Septon says they have no homes. He was a traveling septon before joining the sparrows, and many of the towns he ministered to are gone. Cersei blames northmen and outlaws for the work, but the High Septon does not care who was responsible, only that the king did not defend the Faith, as Jaehaerys I promised he always would. Cersei asks why Tommen has not been blessed, and the High Septon says the hour is not ripe. He says that he must not exalt one king above the other claimants to the throne without being sure. When Aegon the Conqueror landed three hundred years ago, the High Septon at the time prayed and fasted in the Starry Sept in Oldtown for seven days and seven nights and then emerged to say that the Faith would not oppose Aegon so that Oldtown would not be destroyed. Lord Banfred Hightower held back his strength on the word of the High Septon and opened his gates when Aegon came, after which the High Septon anointed him with the seven oils. The High Speton says he must pray and fast too. Cersei points out that the other claimants to the throne worship false gods, but the High Septon retorts that Tommen does not defend the Faith. Cersei says he has not the men and that they should defend themselves. It has been forbidden for the Faith to take up arms since King Maegor suppressed the militant orders of the Sword and Star, but Cersei says she will undo the laws if Tommen is blessed. She also asks that the Faith forgive the crown's debt of nine hundred thousand six hundred and seventy-four dragons. The High Septon agrees to bless Tommen and forgive the debt in exchange for the repeal of Maegor's laws. On the way back to the Red Keep, Cersei and Taena drink hippocras to celebrate her triumph over the Faith. They meet Margaery's party on the way, consisting of the queen, Alla, Megga, Elinor, Janna, Meredyth, Alyn, Tallad, Mark, Horas, Hobber, Lambert, Jalabhar Xho, the Blue Bard, and Loras. Margaery never goes more than three days without riding off somewhere and often rides through the city garnering the adulation of the common folk. She wants Tommen to go on these trips too, but Cersei will not allow it. It suddenly occurs to Cersei that Olenna had wanted to marry Sansa to Willas and suddenly thinks that they all conspired along with Tyrion to murder Joffrey, who was too strong for Margaery's charms to work, and then paid the gaoler to free Tyrion then whisked him and Sansa to safety at Highgarden. Margaery says the queen should go with her on her trips, but she declines. She thinks of how Robert would always try to get her to go hunting with him, but she begged off to have time with Jaime. It suddenly occurs to her that Margaery might be going off into the woods to make love to Loras, and decides to use that against her.


Characters

Active Characters

  1. High Septon - The new High Septon is stick thin with a sharply pointed face, deep-set brown eyes, a closely trimmed beard of grey and brown, and hair tied up in a knot behind his head.

Groups

  1. The Faith - A speton only goes by his given name once he has taken the vows, and the High Septon gives up this name as well when raised. The Most Devout usually name one of their own to the post, but there have been exceptions. Two notable ones came during the reign of King Baelor the Blessed. He chose a stonemason to be the High Septon because he worked stone beautifully enough to be the Smith reborn. He was supposedly poisoned by Viserys. Next, Baelor chose an eight year old boy who supposedly had a healing gift. The Faith contains three holy orders of brothers and three holy orders of sisters. Before they were repressed by Maegor there were two militant orders of the Faith as well. The Warrior's Sons were an order of knights who gave up their lands and gold and swore their swords to the High Septon. They wore rainbow cloaks and inlaid silver armor over hair shirts and bore star-shaped crystals in the pommels of their swords. They were known as the Swords. The Poor Fellows were a humble order of the poor who carried axes and escorted travelers between septs and towns. Their badge was a seven-pointed star, red on white, and they were known as the Stars.