I take the opportunity to “get lost” in Highgarden, and am pleased to stumble upon two sweet handmaids chattering in the halls with some intensity. Requesting their assistance in navigating the castle. I take advantage of the time it takes to walk through the halls to get to my room to hear Ivy’s story. She shares that her father is at risk of being killed for being unable to pay debts, and he may have to escape with her family in order to keep them all alive. She is too afraid to ask the Tyrells for help for fear they might kick her out of the home for being the offspring of a ne’er do well. She is a scared, young, vulnerable girl, and meeting her is a gift from the seven.
After allowing Ivy and her friend to escort me through the halls, all the while inquiring about their lives and their roles as handmaids at Highgarden, I usher them into my room and propose two options. Out of charity, I would give Ivy 1 gold dragon and wish her well. OR, for her father’s entire debt of 5 gold dragons, she could be part of my network of whispering handmaids. She fears betraying the Tyrells, and I remove the burden by sharing that she can pass on as much or as little information as she would like, but she will receive one silver stag for each nugget of information she sends my way. I hope she realizes that a silver is worth far more than loyalty to a family that cares not about her or her family.
Ivy agrees to work for me, and for her friend’s discretion about our deal, I pay her a gold dragon as well. I leave Highgarden with lighter pockets, but a new pipeline for whispers.
Travelling up to Old Oak, we come across a familiar old trickster of a man, who I recall quickly caused us quite a headache in the past. After the four of us spread in different directions, I see the others have crossed safely, and I gallop safely across without even looking at the man. Maester Thad on the other hand chats for hours about how he feels he’s found a new friend in the man. I imagine his curiosity will get him into trouble one of these days.
Lady Arwyn of Old Oak greets us warmly outside her home upon our arrival, and invites us to dine with her and her house. I approach the evening with skepticism, as such generosity can’t exist without a request for reciprocity. Sure enough, after dinner, Lady Arwyn hangs in head in shame, and shares that her niece is carrying the bastard baby of a travelling bard, and they are now unable to find a suitor for her to marry. The house is disgraced and desperate for help to marry the young woman.
When Lady Arwyn goes to bed, House Jasper discusses the options, and we discuss suitable options for this arranged marriage, in order to forge a lasting bond with the powerful House Tyrll.