Be so good as to summon the members of the council here to my solar, he told Pycelle. The Tower of the Hand was as secure as he and Tomard could make it; he could not say the same for the council chambers.
My lord? Pycelle blinked. "Surely the affairs of the kingdom will keep till the morrow, when our grief is not so fresh."
Ned was quiet but firm. "I fear we must convene at once."
Pycelle bowed. "As the Hand commands." He called his servants and sent them running, then gratefully accepted Ned's offer of a chair and a cup of sweet beer.
Sir Barristan Selmy was the first to answer the summons, immaculate in white cloak and enameled scales. "My lords," he said, "my place is beside the young king now. Pray give me leave to attend him."
Your place is here, Sir Barristan, Ned told him.
Littlefinger came next, still garbed in the blue velvets and silver mockingbird cape he had worn the night previous, his boots dusty from riding. "My lords," he said, smiling at nothing in particular before he turned to Ned. "That little task you set me is accomplished, Lord Eddard."
Varys entered in a wash of lavender, pink from his bath, his plump face scrubbed and freshly powdered, his soft slippers all but soundless. "The little birds sing a grievous song today," he said as he seated himself. "The realm weeps. Shall we begin?"