Disclaimer: I disclaim.

A Veil of Prophecy

Chapter 1

"You can get out of my chambers through the door or the window. The choice is yours. Make it quick before I make it for you!"

The familiar voice was so unexpected that Prince Baelor almost jumped from the bench where he was sitting with a book of naval strategy. At seventeen, he was determined to learn everything there was to learn about all battle tactics and he had spent a good few hours engrossed in the book but now it fell to the ground and he didn't even notice, his entire attention focused on the voices coming from his youngest brother's chambers. Maekar had kept to his chambers for more than a month, ever since it became clear that he had the speckled monster, the disease that was considered equally terrifying to greyscale. Baelor, along with everyone else had watched the flow of maesters coming in and out of Maekar's chambers in a hurry, had heard the panicked voices screaming for this or that. But no one had seen the boy since they had determined what his illness was. It was highly contagious and no one but the maesters was allowed to enter or leave Maekar's rooms. A week ago, the isolation had officially ended, with Maekar, miraculously, still alive and proclaimed to get better. But he had yet to leave his chambers or let anyone in and that left only two possible explanations: he was either still too weak or he was terribly disfigured like almost everyone who had lived through the disease. True, their mother had said that he was recovering but what did recovering mean for a person who had suffered the speckled monster? It often caused blindness and people were considered recovered because well, they had come out of it alive. And how on earth had Maekar even contracted it? Why wouldn't he leave his chambers? Albeit young, he was never the one to shirk a challenge. But the speckled monster was no ordinary challenge.

An elderly voice started muttering something before Maekar cut him off again, "You call this swill 'good'? Very well, then you can drink it. I am waiting. No? Then take it away. Take yourselves away, all of you!"

All of a sudden, Baelor made his decision. Soon afterwards, he was in the building, three floors up and right in front of the door behind which the quarrel was still going on. Maekar was rejecting all the potions maesters were trying to give him, proclaiming that he was feeling just fine without their vile concoctions and he'd feel even better once he saw them leaving. Baelor took a deep breath and pushed the door opened. Initially, the sight stunned him and he couldn't believe his eyes. There was none of the scars he had mentally prepared himself to see. No pits in the skin. No fallen eyelashes. It was just Maekar. When Baelor stepped near, he saw some scars marring his brother's cheeks. They might never disappear fully but they would fade to some extent. And they were not the terrible disfigurement Baelor had reasonably expected. His relief was so profound that he could practically hear the sound of his own blood running through his ears.

"I am still me."

Baelor blinked before he realized that he was the one Maekar was addressing now. He nodded. "I see. How are you feeling?"

"Bad," Maekar said. He looked too pale even for him, his face whiter than his hair, his lips bitten all over, blue veins protruding under his skin. His nightclothes looked too big on him. But his eyes were flashing the same raging annoyance that was so often addressed at Baelor himself. "I'll feel better as soon as I see the backs of these," he added, shooting dirty looks at the maesters.

"His Grace insists that he rises from his bed right now when he can't even sit up yet," the nearest maester explained to Baelor in undertone. "He needs to rest three more days, at least, but he doesn't want to hear about this."

"He is not deaf," Maekar snapped. "So you can stop talking about him like you are already making plans for his funeral. And let me tell you, just another day, and this room will truly turn into my tomb. Make them leave?" he turned to Baelor.

Baelor hesitated. He was firmly of the mind that too much care was not necessarily a good thing but he could not help but see that his brother was still to regain his strength for the smallest motions. Maekar could not even turn to one side, propped on his elbow, and take the goblet of water with his other hand. The water splashed over the pillows.

"You know, I might be more inclined to say yes if you ask nicely," he said. "If you say please."

Maekar's face fell down. "Very well," he spat. "Forget that I asked."

Baelor chuckled. It was Maekar in full spirit again. He'd never ask for anything. He turned to the maesters. "Leave now. I promise you that my brother will stay in bed until tomorrow."

"What?" Maekar and a young maester exclaimed at the same time but the Grand Maester accessed the situation and nodded at Baelor with newfound respect before taking his people out.

"Don't forget about the potions!" Maekar yelled after them and one of the maesters returned to collect the, before leaving with insulted air.

"You know, they were only doing their duty," Baelor said as soon as they were alone. "You gave them quite the fright. You gave the scare to all of us. And I see why they would think that your condition is still troublesome."

"The potions were even more troublesome!" Maekar argued and Baelor went to open the curtains, making the room look more of a bedchamber and less of a tomb. When he returned to the bed and helped Maekar drink, he noticed his brother's peculiar look.

"What is it?"

"You thought I had becomeā€¦ like all the others who survived, didn't you?"

"Yes, I did," Baelor admitted.

For a moment, Maekar looked at him with all the indignation of a thirteen-year-old boy who wanted to ask How dare you presume that an illness would get the better of me? But then he turned his head aside. "So did I, for a while," he admitted. Then, a malicious grin slowly made its way on his face. "And so thought our friends Aegor and Daemon, I have no doubt. I wish I could be there to see the look of Aegor's face when he realizes that he isn't in luck."

Baelor sighed. It was so typically Maekar, not to let go of his grudges even now. Not that Daemon and Aegor were ready to let go of theirs, of course. He sat next to the bed, unwilling to discuss the matter. "You know how many people die from the speckled monster?" he asked.

"Very many."

Baelor rolled his eyes. "Don't try this line in front of Father because he'll give you additional lessons in language before you can say But I know that! You know how many were left disfigured?"

"Almost everyone," Maekar said and yawned.

Baelor looked around. The silver ewer with a ruby cap kept his attention for longest. "You have been preserved for something. Something or someone. That's what I think."

Maekar rolled his eyes. "Yes, the fourth son of the King is so very important." Then, he grinned. "I know, I'll be entrusted with a vital task: to hit the King on the head with my mace whenever said head becomes too big."

"I don't think Father would be in danger of such a thing," Baelor said. "Ever."

Maekar smirked. "I didn't mean Father," he said and promptly fell asleep.