Character: Alector Destine
House: House Antirran
Kingdom: The Reach

“My lord, try to see reason,” Alector pleaded as his footfalls resonated off the stone walls of House Antirran’s cavernous wine cellar. Despite the torch that he carried, Alector shivered in the cool, damp air. They continued to pace along the dozens of oaken casks of sweet red and pale Riesling that lined the walls of the circular hallway. Lord Jarden Antirran didn’t seem to hear him and continued along the circuit into the dark. Popping his lips as he so often did when annoyed, Alector quickened his pace to keep up with his liege.

The barrel they stopped at looked no different from the others, but obviously Jarden knew something that Alector didn’t. Alector knew better than trying to reason out Jarden’s drinking rationale, and instead stood back, only serving as a light for Jarden to work by. “My lord,” he began again, tapping his foot impatiently. Jarden looked over at him and motioned for him to be silent as he unstopped a cask of Riesling. Alector held his tongue as the white wine splashed into the cup, almost glowing in the torchlight.

His cup full, Jarden closed the tap on the barrel and drank in the sight of his wine. Jarden’s fierce pride for his family’s winemaking abilities was proving an irritating obstacle. “Alright, Alector,” Jarden said after he had finished examining the Riesling. “What did you want to talk to me about?”

Alector stared at him, dumbfounded. “Lord Jarden, we’ve been discussing the Hand’s tourney for nearly an hour. Don’t tell me you’ve forgotten after a brief trip to your wine cellar.” It had seemed that Jarden had drank his fill in his solar, but when the flagon had run dry, he had insisted on personally fetching another drink. Jarden’s appetite for wine had been bearable before, but since the death ofJon Arryn, it had become increasingly frustrating to deal with.

“Oh yes yes yes yes yes,” Jarden mumbled, waving a hand dismissively, his eyes drifting back toward his cup. Alector placed the torch in a wall sconce and walked back into Jarden’s line of sight.

“My Lord, I do not think it wise for you to attend the Hand’s tourney. There are much more pressing matters that need tending to inMerlot.”

“Nonsense.” Jarden sipped his Riesling and his eyes lit up. “Oh, that is delicious. Alector try some of this.” The cup was in his hands before Alector could politely decline. A fragrant aroma of honey and apples filled his nostrils and Alector took a small taste of the wine. The crisp sweetness of the drink danced across his tongue and Alector found it difficult to relinquish the rest.

“You have chosen an excellent cask,” Alector remarked, grudgingly handing the cup back to its rightful owner, “but we must return to the matter at hand. It is my belief that you should remain at Merlot and allow me to represent you at the Hand’s tourney.”

“I still do not follow your reasoning. Why would I send an advisor to stand for my family? I am very fond of you Alector, but you are no Antirran.” The truth of the words stung, but Alector did not let it show.

“You know how grateful I am for you taking me in, and I would like a chance to show you my gratitude.” The words weren’t untrue, but Alector knew that keeping Jarden out of the public’s eye was in everyone’s best interests. If word got out that the famous Wine Lord of Merlot was regularly drinking himself to sleep on his own wares, nobles would be mocking their cups instead of praising them.House Antirran would become a joke and when its power diminished, so would Alector's.

“What could you possibly do for me in King’s Landing?” Jarden raised his eyebrows as he took another long sip of his drink. In the torchlight Alector noted the rosiness of Jarden’s cheeks and inspiration struck him.

“You are right in saying I should not represent your family,” Alector began, cautiously choosing his words. Jarden was prideful, and a single wrong word could ruin his plans. “But it would be unwise for you to journey with us if we are also sending Gavin.”

“Gavin? What does he have to do with any of this?” Jarden set aside his drink and Alector knew that he had his undivided attention.

“Perhaps nothing,” Alector continued, shrugging his shoulders. “Although,” he paused, allowing the tension to grow. “I have reason to believe that Gavin has been playing us for fools.”

“Fools?" Jarden bristled. "Gavin is my trusted steward.”

“Your trusted steward that you allow the sole management of your finances? The same Gavin I’ve heard so many whispers about?”

“What are you getting at, Alector?”

“I’ve heard that your finances and his have developed quite the relationship over the years. And don’t tell me you haven’t heard his pockets jingling after he leaves his ledgers.”

“Are you saying that Gavin has been stealing from us?” The suspicion and fear were obvious in his voice. Alector had him.

“Merely a suggestion. I think it might be in the family’s best interests to investigate further, wouldn’t you say?”

Jarden slowly drained the rest of his Riesling. “Even if you these tales were true, why should that require my stay at Merlot?”

“Assuming these whispers are true, with an order this large, Gavin is sure to slip a few dragons into his purse. Without you hovering over his books, he is more likely to slip up. I can observe him and report back to you at the end of our journey. Additionally, with the rest of your family at the tourney, the people will need a face they can look to, one that I cannot provide. Like you said, I am no Antirran.” He folded his hands behind his back and watched Jarden mull over his words.

“Well then,” Jarden said after a moment of silence. “I suppose you should start packing for King’s Landing… Ambassador Destine.”