Visionary Tales

IC => Fandom => Topic started by: asterin on May 24, 2019, 05:25:46 PM

Title: The Golden Sun and the Silver Moon [m]
Post by: asterin on May 24, 2019, 05:25:46 PM
The Red Keep was aflame with gossip and scandal—tongues wagging madly in response to the recent events that had taken them all by shock. Crown Prince Rhaegar, leaving his wife and children to whisk away Lyanna Stark! The execution of Rickard Stark, and his son! The brewing of something greater! Away from the whispering but unable to block out their influence, a young woman sat at her writing desk, blankly eyeing a cyvasse board. It was well used but clearly of great quality, made with lacquer and fine mahogany; instead of the traditional black and white, the pieces and spaces were painted a distinct red and black. The red King piece sat surrounded and backed into a corner, and it was obvious that in the next move, it would be lost. After a long silence, the young woman took a deep breath.

“I am to be wed, Daeron,” she whispered into the air. Of course, there was no answer, and with a small self-deprecating laugh she shook her head and began to rearrange the pieces. How many afternoons had they spent playing cyvasse on this very board? Too many to count, surely. They'd both taken quickly to it, studying strategies and testing them out; he’d never refused a game, even when he’d been bedridden. She picked up the black king piece, the color he’d always played as, and regarded it silently. In three days, she would be on a ship, leaving behind the only home and family she’d known to marry a stranger.

It was difficult to articulate her exact feelings on the matter--she had known from a very young age that she would one day be Daeron’s bride, and the princess had accepted it as tradition required. She had loved him very much--though, in what way, she could not be sure, even now. It was no easy feat to separate filial love from romantic love when being a Targaryen most often meant marrying sibling to sibling. Regardless, she would have been a dutiful wife like her mother before her. Aeranys had thought herself rather lucky; she and Daeron had been close in age and closer still as friends. Not many could boast a loving relationship within an arranged marriage, was it not so?

Losing him had been a devastating blow to their family, but especially to her. With one death, she had lost brother, best friend, and future husband--leaving a gaping hole in her heart she knew not how to fill. Oh, there’d been offers. Suitors. Proposals. Aeranys had refused them all, even in the face of her father’s ire. Not only had the wounds not yet healed, she had also felt it was a fearful gamble to marry someone she did not know well. And yet here she was, doing just that.

Not two weeks ago, her mother had come to her with the proposal. A betrothal to Mors Nymeros Martell, heir to Sunspear--a young man she had seen but a few times. This was the marriage that would create a sorely needed ally in House Martell; to those with a shrewd outlook, it was obvious that the disquiet at the disappearance of Rhaegar with the betrothed of Robert Baratheon would become something more powerful, especially after what had happened between her father, Tywin Lannister, and Steffon Baratheon. It had always been a delicate balance, linked together with shared childhood memories and a bond of marriage through Rhaegar and Cersei, but now... It only made sense that allies had to be made anew, and one of the quickest and most beneficial methods was through a marriage.

She had said yes, because she was the only one who could protect her family now. Even though she cared not for her father, she knew that if House Targaryen fell, the casualties would most likely be their entire family. She wanted to protect her mother and her remaining older brother, wherever he was. Better she wed and prevent a disaster. She had said yes, because she hadn’t had a choice.

A knock interrupted her thoughts and she gave a start, turning her head towards the door. “Milady Aeranys, 'tis I,” came a familiar voice, to which she visibly relaxed and hastened the visitor in. The door opened and a plump, matronly woman strode in with a dress folded carefully in her arms. Her honey gold hair was beginning to streak grey, but as always she was rosy-cheeked and bright-eyed, full of a bottomless energy that could not be touched even by the foul spirit filling the Red Keep. She seemed ever-unchanging, a constant presence in her life--first as a nursemaid, then as a chambermaid. She was much like a second mother to her, and very dear to her heart. “Come now, if I don’t have it back to the seamstresses within the hour, they’ll never let me hear the end of it!” she clucked, holding out the half-finished gown towards her. A dress had been commissioned for her even though her betrothal and upcoming marriage was to be kept quiet; the logic was that it was not odd for a princess to be getting a new gown, though Aeranys herself found it rather unnecessary.

Nevertheless, she rose from her chair to comply, trying to look enthusiastic. “Of course, Madge,” she answered amiably. It was time to tuck her thought and worries away for a while.

+++++++

Sunsets at the Red Keep were worth seeing, especially when one resided in one of the towers that offered a wonderful view. Unfortunately, with the current mood of unease hanging thick in the air, the sun looked more like it was bleeding out on the horizon, tainting the sky red. Bathed in the glow of the sunset, Aeranys sat still in front of a polished mirror as her mother brushed her hair as she had when she was a child. Though it was a peaceful picture, the mood was heavy with unspoken words.

“Have you thought about how you’ll wear your hair when you are presented?” her mother asked her lightheartedly, observing their reflections.

“I haven’t, not yet,” Aeranys responded with a forced smile, playing along for her mother. It was better to take her mind off things, even for a little, she supposed.

“If we put it up, it’ll showcase your lovely neck,” her mother mused, twisting up her long hair to create a visual. “But if you wear it long, it makes you look more youthful.” Gentle fingers arranged her locks about her shoulders, framing her face just so. “What do you think, my daughter?”

Unable to answer, Aeranys laid a hand on her mother’s, her heart twisting at the sight of her. These past few months in particular had been brutal to her mother, especially after Rhaegar’s disappearance and everything that had come on its heels. Queen Rhaella was dressed as elegantly as ever, but she could tell the amount of painstaking care her mother had put into covering signs of her injuries. Her beautiful pale silver hair was worn long--not to look youthful, but to cover the scratches and bite marks that littered her skin. Aeranys missed the days when her mother used to wear her long hair up, before the queen had had to endure unspeakable things at the hands of her own husband. The Queen offered her a weary smile, stroking her daughter’s cheek affectionately. Mother and daughter stood together quietly, enjoying a moment of bittersweet peace.

There were many worries tumbling about in the princess’s mind, but a prominent one that was rapidly growing in severity as the days passed was her mother. Did she truly have no other choice but to leave her mother behind, all alone in the Red Keep to be abused so?

Aeranys knew that there was so little she could do to protect her mother even if she stayed. After all, she had been unable to protect her through the years--though not due to a lack of effort. She’d begged, she’d pleaded, she’d bargained, and when all else had failed, she had made a desperate attempt to prevent it by force. She remembered the sound of her mother screaming as her father turned his maddened fury on her, and how the beating had not stopped until Daeron came running to drag their father off of her. After several other similar incidents, both mother and brother had made her swear never to try and interfere again for her own safety--a promise that hurt more than any beatings could have.

“An arrangement has been made for a member of the Kingsguard to escort you to Dorne,” the older woman said quietly. “No harm will befall you under his protection.”

For a moment Aeranys was silent, but in the end, the question escaped her in a trembling whisper. “...But who will protect you?” Even the Kingsguard, sworn to protect royal blood, could not protect her mother from the King. Leaving her mother in the Red Keep felt no different than tossing her to the wolves, and for what? What if this marriage failed to save their family?

“My sweet child,” Queen Rhaella breathed softly, brushing back a stray lock of hair from her daughter’s face. She had tried so hard to keep her children from seeing the monstrous truth, to shield them from their father’s deepening madness, but Aeranys had always been far too precocious, as youngest children were prone to being. It was not easy for the queen to send her youngest and only daughter far away to Dorne after losing one son to death and another gone missing. However, Queen Rhaella was just as duty-bound as her daughter, as the queens that had come before her. She leaned down, folding her arms around her little girl who was a child no longer. “I pray that you have a kinder fate than I.”
Title: Re: The Golden Sun and the Silver Moon [m]
Post by: Reigning King on May 27, 2019, 03:12:49 PM
Mors Martell wore a smile on his face as his ship, the Bride, made her docking at the shores of Sunspear.  The towers of the Old Palace stretched above him, reaching for the clouds and blocking out the sun. He had enjoyed his visit with his mother in Norvos.  She had only recently decided to make her extended stay in her native city more permanent, but a few years felt like an eternity when she had to go without seeing her children.  It was Quentyn and Trystane she missed most, the younger of Mors’ siblings, Quentyn in particular. It had been his fostering away from Sunspear that had driven the final wedge between his parents that had led to their separation.  It wasn’t that his father had cast his mother aside, no -- far from it, in fact. Mors knew that his father still loved his mother, somewhere within that stoney facade he wore was a heart that still beat for the mother of his children.  However, his mother had never quite adjusted to the Westerosi customs and in the end, having her children taken from her broke her tender Norvosi heart so much, she had been forced to abandon them all together to spare herself further anguish.  The Lady Mellario had watched her oldest get shipped off to Starfall, her second to Yronwood, and refused to wait around for her youngest son to be pulled from her breast, nor give Doran Martell more heirs to disperse about his wretched Realm, so strategically diplomatically.  Then of course there was Arianne, Mellario’s only daughter. She’d kept a breath away from Arianne all of their young lives, it seemed. Of course, daughters were the same in each place, every world, especially the beautiful ones. Arianne had done a good job so far of rejecting suitors and dancing about her father’s intentions, but daughters only stayed your own for so long before they belonged to someone else. 

Unlike his mother, Mors loved Dorne, his home.  He adored each leaf on every towering palm tree, each smiling face from the pale faces of the Stony Dornishmen to the darker of the Sandy Dornishmen, each brightly colored songbird and mud colored snake.  Each grain of sand within the desert, and each brick and tile of his home, the Old Palace of Sunspear. His eyes had been on it’s tallest point, the high-reaching Tower of the Spear, and so he hadn’t seen the figures rushing down the docks towards him.  That is of course, until he heard them calling his name.

“Mors! Mors you’re back!” They shouted, their tiny thundering feet like a quiet storm as they clamored towards their older brother. 

“Quentyn, what are you doing here?” He asked as his brothers crashed into him.  Trystane hadn’t been much of a talker before Mors left and he saw that he hadn’t missed much by way of his youngest brother as he spoke instead with his hands, grabbing for his oldest brother’s arms. 

“I came with Lord Yronwood and the rest of the men.” Quentyn answered.

“The rest of the men?” Mors pressed as he scooped his youngest brother into his arms.  Trystane held him still by the dark, curls of his hair while he planted kisses upon his face.  The wet-nurses who watched after him were always too affectionate with him. He was an adorable little boy, to be sure, far more sweet than Quentyn ever was, but it would prove one day to be a problem for him.  Mors knew better than most.

“Yea.” Quentyn returned in that simple way that only a child could.  “They’re going to war for father.” He explained.

“Where’s Arianne?” He asked next. 

“She’s gone to the Water Gardens with some of the other ladies from the court.” His younger brother answered helpfully. 

“And who was supposed to be watching you two?” He asked, looking down to the brother he held in his arms.  He gave a bashful smirk and tucked his face away in the crook of Mors’ neck.

“Donello and his men.” Quentyn answered, a proud smile on his face that his older brother couldn’t help but return in spite of the circumstance. 

“Come then.” He said, reaching out to taken Quentyn by the hand as he held Trystane against his hip.  “Let’s go see father.”


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


“So, the Starks came seeking justice for a stolen daughter and the Mad King burned them alive with wildfire?” Mors stood in the Tower of the Sun, his father on the other end of the large marble table that served as a place of council within the large chamber that housed the twin seats of Dorne.  It was Mors who now sat beside his father in the chair his mother had once occupied during official proceedings.

“And this is where we lay our allegiance?” He asked his father from across the table.

“Yes.” Doran Nymeros Martell, Prince of Dorne, answered. 

“Why?” His son countered.

“Because in Dorne, when we swear oaths, we keep them.” He replied.  Though his health had been failing him of late, he stood proud and tall in the Tower of the Sun, his shoulders back and his eyes straight.  Any onlooker would never guess the agony he must be feeling just to stay on his feet, with the exception of Mors that is, who knew his father best of all.  “We made one alliance with the crown through marriage, so will we make another.” He continued, moving towards the High seat of Dorne at the head of the room.  Perhaps he could hear his son’s thoughts, or perhaps he could see the concern wrinkling his brow. Either way, Doran saw to quell his eldest sons’ worries and find a moment of reprieve. 

“You mean to tell me…” Mors started, following after his father across the room. 

“Aeranys Targaryen will arrive at Sunspear by the end of this month.  You will wed her, you will bed her, and then my son…” He paused then, trying to find something in the young man’s eyes.  “And then, you will lead our armies into war.”

“War…” He repeated, a look of shock still arching his brow while his thick lips remained still in an even line of stoicism.  “For this?” He pressed.

“What now?” Doran asked, his serious expression cracking into one of fatherly gentility.  “Have you lost faith in your father?”

“You know that it’s you I trust above all others,” Mors insisted.  He lowered himself to one knee and took the hand that his seated father extended to him, laying a kiss upon his knuckles and holding fast onto a hand that had once seemed so big as could snatch the sun straight from the sky.  “I just don’t understand.” He confessed.

“You will.” Doran offered patiently but cryptically.  “For now however, it is safer that you do not. I want you to focus on battle.  You won’t be alone in the field, my uncle Lewyn of the Kingsguard rides with the Princess’ party.  You will also have you own uncle, Oberyn. He’ll be returning in a few days with more forces. I’ll be travelling soon as well, to parlay with more potential allies…”

“Who?” Mors asked, because he rarely missed a moment to catch his father rambling.  It was only then that he could sometimes get little glimpses into the plans that worked within the machinations of his mind. 

“Never you mind that.” Doran said, patting his son’s hand and rising once more from his throne, the High Seat of Dorne.  “We must meet with our Maester and assign a temporary Castellan in your absence to the Palace, before we take supper with our attending Lords…” Doran continued, as he walked he leaned some of his weight into his son as the pair moved towards the doors that would carry them from the Tower of the Sun to the Maester Caleotte’s studies.

“Why did you send Arianne to the Water Gardens?” He asked, his tone polite in spite of the fact that he was interrupting his father.  The dutiful son that he was, Mors aided his father down the stairs as the Prince of Dorne gripped the banister with white knuckles, taking as much weight as he could from his feet and knees. 

“Because I don’t trust your sister’s judgement around soldiers.” Doran replied plainly, a scoff on his voice.  It was enough to bring a smile to Mors lips as he helped his father the rest of the way through the Palace. He was a good son, like his father had been.  He would be a good commander, as his father had been. In time, Mors would be an even better ruler.  His father had made sure of it.
Title: Re: The Golden Sun and the Silver Moon [m]
Post by: asterin on May 27, 2019, 03:36:37 PM
Farewells were always difficult, but for Aeranys, who was not supposed to be going anywhere as far as the public was concerned, it seemed near impossible. Those who were trusted enough to know already were aware, so there was only one real place left for her to say goodbye to--and yet she had purposely put off for as long as she humanly could. Her hand faltered on the handle of the familiar wooden door, her heart begging with an unusual cowardice for her to retreat. It sounded like thunder in her ears, then seemed to come to a dead stop when she finally, with a shuddering breath, let the door creak open.

Then slowly, slowly, one foot at a time, she inched into the room, her candle bringing the details into focus.

Her eyes wandered over the walls, the furniture within, trinkets small and big, touching them gently with her gaze as if to make sure that it was all accounted for. Everything was as it should have been, except for the bed that was empty and cold. It was unusually wide for one person, filled with no small amount of pillows and cushions. It was wedged directly between an expansive bookshelf chock full of tomes and a smaller table and chair. Carefully, as if it would all crumble into dust under her, Aeranys sat on the corner of the large bed.

As a child, she’d spent more time in this room than she’d spent in her own chamber, and the same had gone for Rhaegar. Seeing that he was the heir to the Iron Throne and she was a princess, they’d had very different futures to prepare for, she and Rhaegar. And yet, without fail, they would return to Daeron’s side, the nest that they collected around, the one place where they stopped being princes and princesses and simply returned to being siblings. The bed was big enough for three because more often than not it’d been home to three, two children spending time with another that was too weak to join them outside, to make him forget about his frail health and the many, many siblings who would've been there with them if not for the same weakness. 

Rhaegar would read to Daeron or bring his lyre to practice his tunes, while she’d bring him souvenirs from the gardens, sun-kissed flowers and worn pebbles that he seldom saw from his confinement. Sometimes Rhaegar would read the legends of old and she would act out the parts, dancing with imaginary partners or tumbling onto the mattress below in a dramatic, tragic death, pulling faces that she knew would make her brothers laugh. As they grew older their antics would grow quiet, sometimes each sibling reading their own book, sometimes playing cyvasse, sometimes simply listening to Rhaegar playing the lyre while they hummed along under their breaths. Then at times the atmosphere would grow serious and contemplative, a dreamy sort of calm washing over them as they whispered secrets, hopes, and fears they didn’t dare admit aloud--and yet, by some mysterious sense of safety they felt from their canopied shelter, they confessed and confided, three breathing as one.

Now, she was the only one sitting there, and the sense of loneliness that came crashing close was far too sharp. It all felt so recent, and yet it was almost five years ago that Daeron had died. Things had never been the same afterward, even with Rhaegar. Perhaps they reminded each other too much of what they had lost, their other mirror image--the brother they had loved so dearly, the bridge connecting the eldest and youngest. Without Daeron, they’d floated apart to nurse their own grief, and after he’d left for Dragonstone the year after, the distance between them had grown into a gaping abyss. And now--now, the brother she'd once considered one of her closest friends seemed little more than a stranger, having brought a rebellion to their doors. Where was he? What in Seven Hells was he thinking? 

It was a painful thing to sit in the remains of their ruined nest, feeling small and very alone, but it felt like a necessary pain. There was a soft knock at the door, a murmured word--“Princess?” It was time. She stood, absentmindedly running a hand over the coverlets to smooth it back out, erasing her presence from the still room. There was nothing she could do to bring those days back, just as she couldn’t bring back a brother who was dead, she reminded herself as she drew the hood of her cloak over her silvery head. Taking one last look at a broken dream, she turned and slipped back out into reality. All that was left for her to do was to go forward.


++++++


She did not leave King’s Landing in a grand ceremony, with hundreds looking on as she pulled away from the harbor. No, it was in the cover of darkness that two figures slipped out from the Red Keep, creeping cloaked and hidden like thieves. The moon was high in the sky and an uneasy hush had fallen over the city, the same heavy gloom that filled up the Keep spreading out to engulf the whole of King’s Landing.

They moved quickly through the streets, heading for the River Gate; though the taller figure clearly had a longer stride, both seemed to take care to match the other’s speed. It was only when they reached docks that a spoken word was uttered, the hooded knight introducing the gruff-looking captain as Carvio Waters. “You honor this humble ship with your presence, Your Highness,” he managed, somewhat clumsily. “The Lady Luck is at m’lady’s disposal.”

“The honor is mine, Captain,” Aeranys nodded, a gracious smile in place. “Thank you.”

The dark-haired seafarer bowed again in an awkward manner before hastening them up onto the ship that was preparing to cast off. “Your belongings have been placed in your quarters, Your Highness. If it, uh, pleases m’lady, I can show you the way.”

“No need, Captain. I will escort the princess myself,” the knight interjected dutifully. The other man hardly seemed miffed, nodding in a way that gave her the impression that he’d rather not have to do the guiding in the first place. With another bow, he strode off to instruct his men, leaving the two passengers to their own devices. The cloaked knight turned to her with an expectant look in his indigo eyes, but the princess did not move.

“If it isn’t any trouble, Ser Laenor...might I stay on deck a little longer?” she murmured. Her voice was soft, her tone apologetic and courteous, but she was not looking at her sworn protector. “Just a little longer, please.”

“Of course, princess,” she heard him say quietly, something softer running through the words.

The ship slowly began to pull away from the dock as the deckhands scrambled this way and that, but the sounds didn't reach her. Her sights were fixed on the lights far away that made out the looming shape of the only home she’d known--the Keep she’d grown up in with her brothers, the red stones that had heard every laugh she’d uttered and felt every tear she’d wept. When would she lay her eyes on it again? The night breeze gently swayed against her, caressing the cheek where she could still feel her mother’s last kiss and Madge’s tears. When would she see them again? As the Red Keep grew smaller and faded into the distance, the dark, foreboding feeling in the corners of her heart only seemed to swell.

Never, it whispered feverishly. Never, never, never.
Title: Re: The Golden Sun and the Silver Moon [m]
Post by: Reigning King on May 27, 2019, 04:04:31 PM
“I didn’t think you’d come.” She said as he stepped into the room.  She had been sitting alone, long black hair laying straight upon her slender back as she looked out at the Water Gardens beneath the open window.  Her Mistress, Arianne Martell, was somewhere out there wandering arm in arm with her aunt, Elia Martell, a fellow Princess of Dorne. When they had bid her to leave them, and she found herself otherwise alone, she had known he was here.  Worse, was the jealousy she had felt knowing he must have seen his sister and aunt first, without her even knowing, before he had bothered to show her his cowardly face.

“That’s not true.” He said, taking another long, effortless stride into the room.  While her heart pounded in her chest, he showed not one hint of anxiousness at their meeting again.  He never did. Endlessly at ease, regardless of the situation. “You knew I would come eventually.”

“It’s been nearly two weeks!” She countered, unable to keep her emotions at bay.  “Is it true, what I’ve been hearing? Are you going to marry the Mad King’s daughter?” She asked, trying her best to look proud while tears stung at her green eyes. 

“Don’t shout, Vellysa.” He scolded, stepping close enough that she could smell him.  She wanted to shout, to hit him, but that sort of thing never worked with Mors. Instead she let him come close, sit next to her and place a comforting hand on her knee.  In response her own hands, which she had balled into fists, relaxed marginally, but not much. “It is true. My father has arranged for me to be married to the Targaryen girl.”

“Why would Dorne go to war for the Targaryens?” Vellysa snapped ignorantly.  It was a heartbeat or two of silence before Mors finally answered her, but when he did, there was finaly emotion in his voice -- though not for her sake.

“Arthur and Ashara are in King’s Landing.” He said.  “Both are in service to the Targaryens.”

Vellysa had always been jealous of Ashara and sung her praises when finally the girl had been sent off to serve as Lady in Waiting to Cersei Lannister.  Now however, it seemed that the very thing she had been convinced would bring her closer to Mors, pulled him away from her, away from them both. He loved them more than he had ever loved her, like he loved his other siblings for that’s what they had been to him; Arthur especially.  For all the emotions Mors kept so well hidden, all the cards he played so close to his chest, it was obvious to anyone who knew him that he adored Arthur Dayne like an older brother, worshipping him as a knightly hero. There would be no convincing him otherwise. Not with their lives hanging in the balance of this potential rebellion.  However, if he made it home to her…

“I can handle it.” She assured him, reaching out to clutch his hand against her knee before he could pull it away.  “Truly, I can.”

“You and I both know that you can’t.” Mors returned, his voice steady and hollow.  It was clear he had already made his decision. That was the thing about him, he never changed his mind once he made it up about something.  She had thought he had chosen her and made her his Paramour because she never gave up trying. “When Arianne returns to court, you will stay here with my aunt…” He meant to go on but Vellysa was on her feet, hitting him, her hands balled into fists. 

“Why?” She demanded.  “Your uncle has a dozen different consorts at court, your Lords too.” She struck him again and again in the chest and he watched her with that disinterested gaze that she hated so much.  When she saw his bottom lip twitch however, saw the pleasure he got at seeing how much she hated it, she raised her hand against he face. Then, and only then, the statue finally moved and caught the hand that swung at his jaw.  “Why do you insist on fighting every natural thing about you to be just like your father?” She demanded, striking below the belt in words since she couldn’t strike his stupid, smiling face. “You cannot be both honorable and a scoundrel, Mors.” She pointed out, snarling at him like an animal held in the clutches of a tightening python’s grip. 

“But I can,” he replied,  “and I am.” The grip he held her with was forceful but not needlessly cruel.  She’d done plenty worse to him over the years. With the deceivingly strong muscles that curved in subtle waves across his slender body he turned her around so that she was once more seated and he stood over her.  Letting her go so that he held only one of her hands he continued where he had left off earlier saying, “my aunt holds court in the Water Gardens, perhaps even more often than my uncle at Sunspear. Elia is kind, and she likes you.  You’ll be happy here. My aunt will take care of you.”

“And what about Arika and Natari?” She asked, a childish pout on her lips in spite of herself at the mention of the other young women at court who had found a place in Mors’ bed. 

“Don’t pretend you care about them.” He answered knowingly. 

“Will they stay?” She asked, more earnestly this time. 

“No, Vellysa.” He replied, knowing well that she grew soft when he uttered her name.  “Like my father, my only Paramour, consort or otherwise in my court will be my wife.”

Now it was Vellysa’s turn to wear the mask of condescension.  “You really think a man can change so quickly? A man with your appetites no less?” She mocked. 

“One man can have many faces.” He replied calmly, righting himself and folding his hands behind his back as he stepped back from her.  The gesture was one wrought with meaning. No longer tender and close but now distant and formal, their relationship had at once been redefined forever.  Mors never did anything halfway.

“Did I ever really know you?” She asked him suddenly.  At last, tears began falling down her cheeks.

“No.” Mors answered, only the slightest touch of empathy leaking into his even tone.

“Will I ever see you again?”

“Perhaps,” he didn’t look away as he spoke.  His had told her once that when he was born, his father thought he might have been cursed by a Norvosi that had loved his mother.  His eyes, the palest shade of sandy brown she had ever seen, shone yellow in the light of day like a snake’s. In the glow of the setting sun however, they sparkled golden.  It was his eyes that Vellysa had fallen in love with. Would the Targaryen daughter see them the way she did? Would she adore his impossible wildness, or would she continue to encourage him to tame himself like all others in his life did?

“I might fall in battle.”

“But won’t you command from Sunspear, like your father?” She asked, concern clutching at her throat and stopping her tears. 

“Before my father left, he told me I would be leading our armies, not commanding them.  He’s very careful about his words.” He explained. Finally, he looked away striding closer to another window on the adjacent wall from where Vellysa Sand, once his Paramour now no longer, was sitting.  Gazing out into the vastness of the Gardens he watched after his sister and aunt. “If I do come back, I will be a married man and you will not be permitted to return to Sunspear, even with my aunt. But I will come to visit her, to bring the children my wife will bear me…“ He went on, perhaps looking away so as not to watch Vellysa’s heart break before his very eyes. “And if there ever comes a day where that is too painful for you, Elia will make you a match with someone deserving of you.”

“Was I undeserving of you?” She asked.

“No.” He answered.  “It was I who was always undeserving of you, Vellysa.”

It was with those words that he had left her. 

Mors had expected to return to Sunspear to find his bride awaiting him.  Instead, his Uncle Oberyn had no word nor even sighting or sign to report of their ships.  It kept him up that first night upon his return, pacing the corridors of the Old Palace. Always he found himself at the doors of this father’s private library.  He had never been allowed inside unless the Prince of Dorne himself had been alongside to supervise and only every now and again. When he had been a small boy, before he had been sent to Starfall to serve as a squire to Lord Dayne, he used to stand outside his father’s library with his ear pressed to the door.  He would listen to the sound of his father working, sometimes the muffled voices of a private meeting. Always, every time he reached for the handle, the door would be locked. Eventually, he had stopped reaching for it. Tonight however, he found his hand wandering towards the familiar shining brass of the artisanally curved handle.  As he allowed the weight of his hand to fall against it, the latch turned and the door popped open with all the effortlessness that he had ever dreamed it might.

“And what is the lesson here, you old snake…” He muttered to himself as he stared into the tempting darkness of his father’s library.  There was not one single thing that Prince Doran Martell ever did that was not on purpose. Unable to help himself, he stepped inside. Striking a candle he moved about the room, finding himself at his father’s desk.  Fanned out upon its surface, as though someone had left them thus intentionally, were letters accompanied by maps and ledgers. Twenty thousand infantry, eight thousand cavalry… Numbers, names which Mors recognised, coded messages alongside their legends…

“Are you ready?” Prince Doran used to always say, each time he sat before his son with a heavy tome, a collection of scrolls, an abacus or a sextant.

“I’m ready.” Mors whispered into the darkness, seating himself at his father’s desk and beginning his new lesson.
Title: Re: The Golden Sun and the Silver Moon [m]
Post by: asterin on May 27, 2019, 04:05:53 PM
She tread barefoot down the stairs, taking the step one by one in a slow, reluctant motion. Her pale hair tumbled over her shoulder, matching the white nightgown she was dressed in. The stone steps were not cold, but hot, and the air grew hotter still as she grew closer and closer to the Great Hall. She didn’t want to go. She was afraid, she knew what was coming, and yet her short legs carried her there, as they always did. She was dreaming, she knew. She was dreaming, just as she had as a little girl. She dreamt she was a little girl still.

The smell reached her before the screams did. That was always how it was. Her traitorous feet gave no pause at the entrance of the throne room, even though every fibre of her being was screeching for it to stop, for all of it to stop. It never worked.

The throne room was nothing but a haze of black smoke overflowing with a writhing collection of charred bones and bodies. Choking on smoke, the smell, or tears, she never knew which, she raised her eyes to where she knew it would be. Perched on the Iron Throne was a twisted and deformed dragon no bigger than a dog, scales patchy and dull, with claws extending in yellowed points so long it could not fly. It saw her, it always saw her, the girl child standing in terror amongst the dead and dying. It saw, and let out a sound more akin to keening laughter as it reared back. 

It was coming.

“Please, don’t!” the plea ripped out of her, her voice high and afraid--but it never mattered what she said in that split second. The wretched, malformed dragon breathed forth a torrent of green flames, engulfing everything. She could see nothing but the sickly green color of it, but as the flames swallowed her whole, she could sense the world perishing and turning into ash around her.

Aeranys lurched awake with the terrible stench fresh in her mind. Clapping a hand over her mouth, she fought the urge to retch, though the rolling waves did little to help. Slowly, she pushed herself up, evenly sucking in the musty, salty air in an attempt to calm her racing heart. She knew she would never forget the smell of wildfire consuming flesh, nor would she be able to erase the screams from her memory. She’d always hated the green flames, even before she’d known what they were.

She’d first encountered wildfire in her dreams, a dream by all purposes identical to the one that had woken her, a dream she’d seen countless times over the years. At times the details would change, but the misshapen, wildfire breathing dragon and the terror she felt never changed. She had only been six the first time, and it had frightened her like nothing ever had. As the dreams continued, she’d once confessed to her brothers that she believed the deformed dragon to be their own father. They’d laughed at her, teasing her good-naturedly for reading into a nightmare. She’d thrown a fit then, furious that they didn’t believe her.

Years later, she had wanted nothing more than for them to have been right.

The young woman let out a quiet exhale, the tightness in her chest loosening slightly. It was difficult to tell what hour it was, but she was loathe to go back to sleep now. Her eyes searched for a moment in the gloom, but soon she had a flickering candle to brighten her surroundings. The walls were in fact shelves, shelves lined with expensive silks and ornaments that glittered and shone in the candlelight. It was a storage room for the most precious goods a merchant galley might carry--she was not much different from the pretty baubles there. Like them, she would fetch a high price. An army, an alliance, one last hope for her family.

Holding the candle aloft, she walked to the small trunk in the corner that contained her belongings; she’d brought very little along with her, for it would have been far too suspicious if most of her things disappeared from her chambers. She rummaged through it and pulled out one of the simple dresses she’d packed, pushing aside the small bundle of favorite jewelry. Unlike her luxurious dresses, it was easy enough to dress on her own, and soon she was pressing her nightshift into the trunk. Her hand came to a sudden stop, however, when it brushed up against a familiar edge--her cyvasse board. Gently, she tugged out the drawer, her fingers fishing out the black king piece. She regarded it for a moment in the dim light. A piece of home, she thought to herself, tucking it into her pocket as she left the room. A piece of better times.


++++++


It was the beginnings of a rosy dawn when she climbed the stairs and pulled herself onto the open deck. The sea that spread before her as far as the eye could see was calmer this morning, unlike the rough, tossing waves the night before. A brisk wind tugged at the sails and at her pale hair, snatching a few loose strands away from her braid, and she immediately brought the hood of her cloak more snugly against her face. The world seemed still and at peace, quiet enough to delude her for a moment that there’d been no nightmare and that nothing was hanging in the balance--no throne, no kingdom, no family.

However, within a few heartbeats, a young man trailed after her and the spell was broken. “Ser Laenor,” she acknowledged politely, turning briefly to address him. “I trust you’ve slept well.” She’d thought he’d been asleep when she passed his cot, but he was either a very light sleeper or he’d been awake from the start.

Laenor Velaryon--third son to her father’s master of ships. His home was the island of Driftmark, and it was well known that the Velaryons were expert sailors. He was young, barely a year older than Aeranys, and the newest to be recruited into the Kingsguard after Ser Harlan Grandison died. Her father had chosen him to be her escort despite his relative inexperience, likely due to how fiercely Lucerys Velaryon supported the crown. Still, he was a skilled and accomplished knight, and he seemed to be the level-headed sort. He was kind and dashing as well, if Elaena Velaryon was to be believed, but Aeranys knew better than to trust the word of the young noble girl who had been utterly heartbroken when her cousin had received his white cloak.

“Yes, milady,” the knight responded. “The sea is like a mother’s embrace to me.”

“Even with the high waves we had last night?”

“I fear they will only get rougher, milady,” he told her, coming to stand a respectable distance from her to peer out at the water. “We’re nearing the end of the Narrow Sea. As we pass the Stormlands, we will have to take care to avoid storms.”

Stormlords as well, Aeranys thought. Their path was the most direct, and yet the most risky in terms of safety. Shipbreaker Bay was a perilous area that had earned its moniker many times over, and storms were a frequent occurrence in the waters they would soon reach. It was also directly crossing by the Stormlands, the lands held by House Baratheon--the very house that was in full rebellion against the Iron Throne. It was dangerous, but that had been the very logic applied. Should word of her betrothal be spread, her enemies would likely try to intercept her on the route to Braavos, and then from Braavos to Dorne. It was the most common path for a ship that wasn’t a trading galley to take, the most expected. The small council had agreed that this route would be more discreet, and timely to boot. They would slip by underneath their noses, with them none the wiser.

A lookout announced to the crew that they were entering into the waters of Shipbreaker Bay, and the deck was once again overrun with a tense energy as the sailors began to prepare for whatever might come again. It was time for her to return below, it seemed. Indeed, the waters could easily become treacherous at a moment’s notice. Aeranys spared one more look at the open water before turning on her heel, her fingers curling around the cyvasse piece in her pocket as she left with her knight in tow. Perhaps it was the severity of the situation that weighed upon her, or perhaps she had become much too accustomed to things going wrong; perhaps it was the dream that had invaded her sleep--she did not know, but the grimness in her did not recede.
Title: Re: The Golden Sun and the Silver Moon [m]
Post by: Reigning King on May 28, 2019, 09:00:31 PM
Smells… Dark shapes and so many different smells… Slithering through the tall grass of low, murky waters…

Mors knew he was dreaming.  Somewhere in his brilliant mind he knew that what he was experiencing now was naught but a figment of his imagination, and yet it felt so real each time.  Real enough, in fact, that it had been cause for many sleepless nights. Looking on, as though a passenger in the careful, predatory journey of a great monster, he watched the lights pass over his head.  He recognized them as the dim-burning lanterns of the Sunspear outposts, he was in the swamps that surrounded the Southern corner of the Shadow City. Figures bustled about, unable to spot the dark, scaled creature moving invisible through muddy waters.  His intentions, his gaze, was not on them however but instead a thin, famished looking dog lapping breathlessly at the swamp’s edge. He could smell its stench, the desperate exhaustion, such weakness…

Eyes focus… Muscles tensing… A quick approach, barely a sound, just the delicious smell of copper and fear… 

Jerking awake in his bed, Mors found himself in a cold sweat with a sore jaw from his restless sleeping and clenched teeth.  Beside him, the woman in his bed groaned and adjusted, her figure slipping beneath the fine linens, her body naked under them.  The sight of her set him at ease and he leaned back against his feather pillows once more, a hand coming to touch upon the necklace he wore each day around his neck.  He flicked the nail of his thumb against the point of the basilisk's fang fastened to a strap of braided leather, brushing his other hand against Arika’s curls, lulling her back to sleep.  Soon he would have to rise and commence his workings. In his father’s absence, he had been serving actively as Lord of Sunspear and cared even less than he did before to rush the day he would inherit the title officially.  Soon he would rise. Soon, but not yet.

Mors had bent the truth a bit, as he often found it convenient to do, when he had told Vellysa that both Natari and Arika had been sent away.  Natari had been simple enough to dispense with. She was a warrior this day, as she had been all her days. Had Mors not found a place for her among the many ranks at the disposal of Sunspear she would have found one for herself.  Their relationship had always been easy like that. Arika on the other hand was more similar to Vellysa. Unlike Natari, who was true-born daughter to the Master-at-arms of Sunspear, both women were the bastard daughters of High Lords.  While some of the Kingdoms in Westeros frowned upon children born beyond the confines of wedlock, Dorne valued each daughter and son as much as the next. They had been sent to Sunspear with the explicit purpose of finding a place within court.  Some could even argue, they had been sent to find a place in Mors’ bed in particular. Both were intelligent and passionate, but where Vellysa was likeable and charming, Arika was not. Vellysa had a warmth to her, a compassion that could be read in the changing storms within her expressive eyes.  Arika on the other hand, was filled with absolutely nothing save for pure venom. Ironically enough, this was the exact thing Mors found himself fond of in her company. However, while Vellysa had many friends in court and endless options for the potentiality of her future, no one wanted Arika in their service.  No one, that is, except the one woman who seemed so irritatingly intent on keeping the little she-devil around; Ellaria Sand, his uncle Oberyn’s new paramour. For whatever reason, she had taken a liking to Arika, earning her a staying position within the court of Sunspear, and worthy evermore of Mors’ attentions. 

Sighing to himself, Mors rose from the bed and readied himself in a lazy urgency.  None liked to remain in Arika’s company for too long, not even Ellaria, not even Arika herself.  Dressed and readied for the day ahead, he made his exit from the private chambers he had called home for the last several years.  He would be meeting with his father’s council soon -- or rather, his council, at least for now -- but first there would be time for what would surely be his most favored part of the long day ahead.  When his feet found their way to the training sands of the Sunspear grounds, they were already waiting for him. Obara stood with her feet planted, a spear in one hand and a shield in the other, a picture of a warrior with broad shoulders and an even broader face at eleven.  Her sister beside her, though bearing similar features, stood as her antithesis, gorgeous and elegant she brandished two long daggers, one in each hand. They were dirty faced with sweat glistening on their foreheads. Behind them, tiny Tyene sat next to the racks holding training arms.  Around her neck, a snake was coiled. To some, this might have been an unusual sight, but not for Mors. Mors, who had found and hand raised that very snake. Walking over to where Tyene was seated, he waited until she spotted him, jumping to her feet and scrambling to the arms rack in order to select Mors his weapon of choice.  Though he was excellent with a sword, the scimitar on his hip swinging like an extension of his own hand and arm, his first teacher had not been Arthur of House Dayne, his only real peer in the art of combat. Tyene lifted the axe from where it lay, handing the long staff to her cousin. Taking it from her, planting a kiss atop her head as he did, he turned back to his other cousins as they readied themselves against their new opponent.  Mors wasted no time springing forward, swinging his axe and teaching them all the same lessons which had made him such a deadly young man. Those first lessons had been the most important, those taught to him by his first teacher; Aero Hotah. The Norvosi native had escorted his mother to Dorne but stayed after she had returned, remaining loyal to Mors’ father and family. His continued presence in Sunspear felt like an ode to his mother.  So too, did the axe he favored in duel and the Norvosi steel with which it was carved. With its every blow, the staff sung a ballad to her native land echoed in the vibrations that carried down his hands. His own axe, the one he had returned from Norvos with, would sing like a dream for him in the battles to come. For now, this blunted training axe would teach its lessons and kiss Mors’ sweet, small cousins.

It had not been until the meeting with the council in the Tower of the Sun that the sparkling mood from his morning spent sparring with his cousins has shattered.  At first when he had seen his Great-Uncle Lewyn, he had smiled. Upon noticing the grave expression he wore on his aging face however, Mors too had grown serious asking, “where is she?”  Ser Lewyn Martell of the Kingsguard looked surprised at first, but after looking to the council of Sunspear and seeing their unremarkable expressions he composed himself. This was nothing new for them.  Somehow, the son just the same as the father, Mors always knew.

“Princess Aeranys Targaryen was taken.” He answered.

“By whom?” Mors returned calmly.  When again, Ser Lewyn looked surprised, Mors elected to repeat himself, something he did not often do.  “Who has taken my bride, Uncle?” He asked.

“It was the StormLords, my Prince.” He replied dutifully. 

He didn’t answer at first.  Instead, Mors folded his hands behind his back and made the slow journey to the council table.  Those in the throne room followed after him with uncertain steps, all of them likely attempting to decipher the calm demeanor of their acting liege.  For them, the son must have seemed just as mysterious as the father.

“Mors…” His Uncle Oberyn started.

“Summon my father’s bannermen.” Mors said suddenly. 

“To council?” Master Caleotte asked from among the others.

“Commanders attend war-council, gentlemen.” Mors’ reminded them.  A heartbeat of silence passed amongst the men standing around the council table as Mors Martell seated himself gracefully in the seat usually occupied by his father.  “Are you going to make me repeat myself?” He asked, and of course, they weren’t.
Title: Re: The Golden Sun and the Silver Moon [m]
Post by: asterin on May 28, 2019, 09:51:20 PM
As the days passed the young knight found his apprehension fading away into cautious optimism. The whole crew had been concerned that they would run into a storm, but almost as if the Seven were smiling down upon them, the sailing had been remarkably smooth for a route that passed the Stormlands. Their journey was nearly over; soon they would be free of the dreaded Shipbreaker Bay. Though the general mood of the entire ship and crew improved daily, nay, hourly, even, the very opposite seemed to be happening to the princess for some inexplicable reason. To most she would have appeared as serene and gracious as she ever was, but Laenor had always been quick to spot the subtle changes that indicated that she was troubled.

Even now, as she sat across him at a small table with a cyvasse piece in her fingers, it was as if she was a thousand leagues away. Then again, there were many plausible reasons for his lady liege to feel uneasy--perhaps having to stay cooped up down in the safe for days at a time had started to get to her, or perhaps her thoughts lingered on the friends and family she had left behind. Or perhaps she was anxious about who and what was awaiting her at Sunspear.

After a moment, she placed her elephant piece down silently, still looking preoccupied. “...You’ve bested me yet again, milady,” the fair-haired knight remarked good-naturedly, already seeing his defeat laid out in front of him on the board. She’d cornered him in a way that no matter what he did, his King would be taken in the next move. “I fear I am not a very good student.”

Only then did she snap to attention, glancing down at the board and then back to him. “Not at all--you’ve improved at quite a pace, Ser Laenor,” she assured him deftly, a smile at the ready. “Certainly quicker than how long it took me and my brothers when we first began.”

“I am humbled, princess,” he murmured, watching as she began to reset the board with a practiced hand. After seeing her playing imaginary matches a few days prior, he’d asked her to teach him to play. It’d been more out of a desire to distract her from whatever was making her uneasy, and while she’d been quite a willing tutor, it did not seem to chase away whatever was plaguing her. It wasn’t his place to pry into her thoughts; a member of the Kingsguard was to counsel their liege, but only when they were asked to do so. Still, wasn’t he sworn to keep her safe? “Milady, if there is anything I could do to put your mind at ease, I would do all that is in my power to do so,” he found himself saying.

For a long while, she didn’t speak. But just as he considered apologizing, she spoke up--with a question, but not one he could have ever expected. “Ser Laenor, what do you think of my father?” she asked, her pale eyes giving nothing away.

Caught off guard, Laenor took a breath even though he didn’t know what he was to say in response. Luckily, it seemed she hadn’t meant for him to answer. “My father, he is...a careful man,” she continued. The way she said it made it clear that she wasn’t using the word ‘careful’ in its original meaning.

He watched silently as she turned her gaze back to the cyvasse board as if she was contemplating a game still, her voice calm and composed. “When he looks out into the world, he sees danger around every corner. He feels it coming for him.” It was no secret to those in court that King Aerys II had grown suspicious, even paranoid over the years of his reign. In fact, until very recently, he had altogether refused to leave the Keep for fear of assassination. Having been tasked with the safety of the King and his family, the young knight knew this better than most. “Some things are in the blood, I fear,” the princess added quietly. “Sometimes I fear the unlikely or the shapeless. That does not mean I will waste the time of others by speaking them aloud.” 

“Forgive me if it is forward, princess, but nothing milady could ever say would be a waste of my time," he found himself speaking. 

She smiled prettily, but her eyes were weary. Her lips parted--to take in a breath of air, to chide, to thank--he would never know, because in that very moment, a cry went up overhead.

“Captain! A ship is headed our way!”

The smile on her face froze, and her skin went as pale as her hair. A terrible realization seemed to well up in her eyes--then the moment was over and she was up and out of her seat, rushing to the small trunk to yank out her cloak. “We must get off this ship, now,” he heard her say, but for a heartbeat he was too stunned to do anything but stand and stare as she continued to snatch up select items from among her possessions.

“Milady, it would be safer to stay hidden down here. We cannot be sure that they know--”

“They know,” the princess retorted, her tone firm.

Brows furrowing, he turned to her with an incredulous look. “How…?” he uttered, not even sure whether he was questioning how the enemy would’ve obtained this information, or how she could be so sure. And yet, underneath the urgency in her eyes, there was an unwavering certainty--as if the featureless monster that had stalked her through the gloom had finally shown itself, and she was now doing nothing more than stating the obvious.

Unfortunately for him, the princess didn’t seem interested in answering his question. “There is a small boat attached to the ship, is there not?” she demanded, already turning towards the heavy door. “We must leave, now.”

Still unconvinced, he stepped in front of the door to bar her from leaving. Perhaps she was his liege, but he was also sworn to protect her. He wasn’t about to let her leave the safest place on this galley. “We’d never outpace a ship, princess, not on that miserable thing. The captain has been sworn to secrecy, and this place was designed for security--”

“We don’t need to outpace them!” she snapped back, her voice growing sharper than he’d ever heard before. Taken aback, he blinked down at her for a moment. As if immediately picking up on his bewilderment, her demeanor calmed and softened, though her intentions had not changed. “We only need to fool them,” the princess explained briefly, looking up at him with pleading lilac eyes. “Please, we don’t have time to argue, Ser Laenor.” Reluctantly, the knight moved away from the door, uttering a silent prayer to the Seven that he wasn’t making the worst mistake of his life--but it was far too late for that.

With a sound akin to the roaring thunder, the storm descended upon them all.


+++++++


She was dreaming. She knew she was dreaming. Small and alone, she stood in the redstone hallways that glowed an eerie blood red, the grand doors illuminated in the distance. She could hear the voices echoing down towards her, the familiar voices--shouting. Screaming. Tearful pleading. Please, don’t! Her heart burned and twisted, her blood boiled, hot, hot, hotter. The hallway itself seemed to react to her quickening heart, pulsing strangely around her as if it was coming alive, urging her on, and the stones scorched her bare heels as she rushed forward, knife in hand--

She woke to the sound of the howling wind, heart pounding and twisting still. For a disorienting moment, she couldn’t tell where she was--the Red Keep? The Lady Luck? But as the dim room came into view, she felt her heart sinking within her again. It was small but well-furnished chamber--certainly more so than the makeshift room she’d been stowing away in. It had all the necessities that a lady would need to lead a relatively comfortable life, and there was certainly no rocking of the ship.

A narrow window offered a weak source of light, but the weather made it difficult to discern just how early or late into the morning it was. It was storming, just as it had for the past three days; the weather had taken a turn for the worst since that night. As she rose from the bed, however, she realized that the wind was not the only thing she was hearing. Was that? Had her dreams chased her all the way to the waking world?

The princess crept slowly to the door, silencing her breathing as she placed her ear against the thick wooden door. There was muffled shouting going on somewhere, the words echoing in a way that made it impossible for her to understand. Then a sharp sound rang out, cruel and familiar, and Aeranys instinctively flinched away from the door, her heart lurching in her chest. There’d been a time when she would’ve gone running towards that sound, but she wouldn’t have been able to even if she’d been so inclined. Swallowing, her gaze flicked to the door that she knew would not budge. After all, the young woman was unmistakably a prisoner.

The Lady Luck had been captured, and so had she and her knight. After emptying their safe of all the precious treasures, the galley and her crew had been released, to flee or to take the news to the Iron Throne--a taunt to the small council that had been so sure that their plan would succeed.

As far as she could tell, she and Ser Laenor had been taken to Greenstone, but Lord Estermont seemed absent, likely with the rest of the lords in the war camp. Instead, it was his steward who seemed to be giving the orders, a thin, unpleasant man with a piercing gaze called Byrran Storm. Her repeated requests to be taken to Lord Baratheon had been denied, no, laughed at, and she had not been allowed any parchment or quill. Steffon Baratheon had been her father’s friend since they were lads--they shared blood, even. She’d called him uncle, and she still remembered having danced with Robert as a child one summer tourney. 

How fast things could change. How fast it could all crumble, friends and allies turned to bitter enemies…

It wasn’t long before worry overtook her mind and she began to pace. Did her parents know? Did the Martells know? What could be done, now that they held her as hostage and leverage? Would they storm the Red Keep completely unhindered, her life for theirs? And Ser Laenor, her knight--what of him? She had not seen him once since they’d arrived at this manse. He was a Velaryon, and his father was the head of House Velaryon, their master of ships. Would they leverage his life against his father and his fleet of ships? Perhaps they would not kill him so easily, but...for how long, before they grew impatient?

The sound of approaching footsteps interrupted her thoughts and she turned towards her door, straightening and squaring her shoulders. Poise was important, something that her mother had managed to instill in her despite her unruliness as a girl, and it was in her mother’s image that she drew herself up and waited. There was a pause, likely a silent exchange between the guard posted at her door and whoever had come for her--and then, the sound of the key in the lock.

The door finally creaked open to reveal her visitor, who seemed more startled than anything else to find the princess awake and waiting. On the other hand, Aeranys felt herself relax ever-so-slightly. It was one of the servant girls who brought her her meals--and indeed, the girl was holding a tray of what appeared to be some sort of stew and a crust of bread. “P-Pardon me, m’lady,” she stammered, scurrying nervously into the room to set the food down on a wooden stool in the corner, all the while keeping her head ducked low.

The girl gestured awkwardly to the tray, her eyes still glued to the floor, then turned to leave as hurriedly as she had entered. Their interactions were always brief and mostly silent, but today it was even more so. Despite that--or because of that, this time Aeranys called out to her, causing her to flinch and come to a jerky stop a few strides short of the door. “Please wait.” The girl turned hesitantly, still unable to meet her steady gaze despite how gently the princess spoke. “Might I ask your name?”

There was a pause before the girl finally gave in. “Serra, m’lady,” she mumbled, her words so soft they were barely a whisper.

“Thank you for the meal, Serra,” Aeranys intoned, a trace of an encouraging smile on her face. Serra’s eyes finally darted up to her face for a moment, but soon returned to her feet.

“It’s nothing to be thanked for, m’lady,” she muttered, looking even more nervous about being shown gratitude.

“Of course it is,” the princess returned. “I would go hungry otherwise. But I won’t keep you any longer, Serra. Thank you again.” The thin girl didn’t need to be given the chance to leave twice--dipping into a hasty, awkward bow of sorts, she disappeared back out into the hallway, the door closing firmly after her.

The pale-eyed young woman stood there for a moment longer, staring at the door as the lock turn. There was little reason to wonder why the girl had been even more anxious and stand-offish than before; unfortunately for Serra, Aeranys’ sharp eyes had immediately picked up on what she’d been trying to hide by letting her hair down--a far cry from the hairstyle she’d seen twice before, a neatly coiled braid under a kerchief. Through the curtain of stringy black hair, Aeranys had caught sight of the ugly red welt, already swelling up. After all, she was no stranger to seeing injuries badly covered up with hair...

Turning away from the door, her gaze went to the food sitting out for her, then to the narrow window. Despite the hunger in the pit of her stomach, her thoughts were far away, still lingering like a ghost in the hallways of the Red Keep. Her mother, her brother, even the father she despised more than loved--she had to protect them. In order to do that, she had to get to Dorne, just as she’d been told.

But how? But how? The howling storm outside mocked.

Somehow. 
Title: Re: The Golden Sun and the Silver Moon [m]
Post by: Reigning King on May 28, 2019, 11:36:52 PM
“Get some rest, gentlemen.” Mors told his bannermen as he rose from the council table in the Tower of the Sun.  “We leave in the morning with the tide.” On that note he bid his audience farewell and made his departure from the Throne room, the royal seat of Dorne.  Soon, nearly all those present at council would be travelling by the back of either camel or ship, bound for either their glory or doom. Close on his heels, Ser Lewyn of the Kingsguard, Prince Oberyn Martell and Maester Caleotte trailed after him. 

“Bold decisions, nephew.” Oberyn commented. 

“Necessary decisions, uncle.” Mors corrected sharply. 

“I still don’t understand why I should be sent back to the Crownlands after having travelled all this way…” Ser Lewyn started, but he was interrupted sternly by his great-nephew, silencing any further line of questioning he might have had planned. 

“Because I said so.” There was a snarl on his breath as he spoke the words and Ser Lewyn didn’t press the subject further. 

“Prince Mors!” A voice called down the corridor.  “Prince Mors, a moment of your time?” Lord Dayne called as he followed after the young man he had watched grow from a boy. 

“Oberyn, the docks.  Lewyn, I’ll need you to take a message to the Water Gardens before you depart with the marching forces.  Maester Caleotte, please see me in my workshop later on tonight.” Exchanging quiet nods to accompany his quiet words, Mors turned to the approaching Lord as his uncles and the Maester, who had been a tudor to all three Martell men, dispersed themselves in various directions.  Now in relative privacy, Mors offered a pleasant, tight-lipped smile to his Lordship of House Dayne. “Lord Vorian.” He greeted politely. “To what do I owe the pleasure of your conversation?” With all the ease of their practiced years together, they fell into step beside one another as they traveled the halls of Sunspear.

“Well, I’m afraid you’ll have to forgive an old man his silly sentiments…” Mors pleasant smile fell, he knew this particular Lord very well and was able to map the trajectory of their current chat.  “But my family has served House Martell loyally for generations, my own children in service to House Targaryen, it seems only right that House Dayne has a role to play in the rescue of the Princess.”

“And so they shall…” Mors answered carefully. 

“But to give the command to Gerold?” Lord Vorian returned, a touch of incredulousness furrowing his brow.  “I feel I must remind you, my boy, that my brother’s honour is questionable at best.” Aside from his own father, Lord Vorian Dayne was the only man in all of Westeros that Mors would have ever allowed to call him “boy” and live to brag about it.

“And there will be neither honour nor glory to be found on Greenstone.” Mors explained to the man who had fostered him for much of his young life.  Lord Vorian had always been good to the heir of Dorne, treating him with as much care as he did any of his other children. Though his Lordship’s soft touch had been a blessing in Mors youth, he found more in common with Lord Vorian’s enigmatic younger brother, Gerold Dayne.   The Dornish Princeling received almost as many ravens from Lord Gerold in High Hermitage as he did from his closest friend Ser Arthur in King’s Landing. Both had been his confidants, his friends and his best teachers, even if the two men loathed one another by all accounts.

“The forces of High Hermitage are more than enough to take Greenstone, but with the addition of Lord Jordayne’s numbers, the Stormlanders won’t stand a chance.” There was a flippant quality to his tone.  It was true that Mors was young and unseasoned in battle, but if one more pot-bellied Lord demanded that he explain himself, well, he may just have to change his tone. “You are of more use to Dorne here at Sunspear.  With my father gone, my sister will be taking over as ruling Princess. I want someone that I trust by her side to counsel her when she needs it.”

“And who will counsel you?” Lord Vorian asked, his brow relaxed and he looked at Mors with the same purple eyes that his daughters had inherited from him.  The look he gave the young man before him was a gentle one, filled with the sort of selfless parental concern that he had never seen mirrored in his actual father. 

“My wife.” He answered at once.  “But first I have to marry her.” Once again that pleasant posed smile appeared on his handsome face.

“I may not trust my brother, but I do trust you Mors.” Reaching out, Lord Vorian placed a hand upon his liege’s shoulder, giving the muscles underneath the layers of his clothes a gentle squeeze.  “So long as I can be by your side when the real fighting starts.”

“You have my word.” Mors returned with a nod. 

Satisfied at last, Lord Vorian pulled his hand from Mors’ shoulder and offered him a shallow bow before heading off down the corridors of Sunspear.  The expression that Mors had been wearing in the Lord of Starfall’s presence fell when he walked away. Turning down another stone passageway, Mors descended a set of steps and took a few more turns through the large castle before finding his way to his workshop.  Prince Doran’s study was in a high room in the Tower of the Spear, with grand windows that allowed the aging man to survey his beautiful realm as he fulfilled his duties to keep it so. By contrast, Mors liked to do his work in the basements of the castle with naught but stone walls and tired faces to serve as an inspiring view.  As always, Tyene was waiting for him outside the door when he approached. She leaned against the wall, her hands behind her back, looking down at her small slippered feet.

“There you are!” She exclaimed when she noticed her cousin approaching.  “You took so long!” She whined, her nose wrinkling as she pouted, scrunching the pattern of freckles that danced across her fair skin. 

“I know, I’m sorry.” He answered patiently, a hand falling against her sandy blonde head.  “Old men talk too much.” Tyene nodded along as he spoke, as though her counsin was imparting ancient wisdoms and not merely telling a joke.  As soon as he unlocked the door to his workshop, she darted ahead of him into the darkness of the vast room.

As Mors walked about the room, striking the candles and illuminating the cold, dank space, he found Tyene where he expected to.  She stood at the rear wall of the workshop, her face pressed in against the wicker cages that lined the stone from floor to ceiling.  Within the cages, scales slithered and forked tongues hissed. Tyene babbled to the snakes as she checked on them all one at a time. She had secret names for them and spoke to them as though they were her friends.  With the ghost of what might have been the only genuine smile Mors possessed within his repertoire of emotion, he moved about his workshop. The room contained within it all the furnishings typical of a Lord’s study, but also other apparatus that looked like it belonged in a dungeon rather than a library. 

“Can I feed them?” Tyene asked.

“Yes, but be careful.” Mors replied as he set out parchment and quill upon the surface of his humble and rarely used writing desk.  Before he had even gotten the words out, she skipped her way to a different cage made from brass plunged her hand inside. She scooped three or four mice from where they had been clustered together and held them against her small chest, cooing at them as they curled into her like babes to a mother’s warmth.  The cooing continued, with her sweet, high voice, as she plucked them by the tail, smiling as she dropped them screaming into the cages of the snakes who snatched them up hungrily. Her older sisters had taken to combat and even at their tender age they were plenty deadly, always brandishing either steel or spear.  Tyene was deadly in different ways. She watched the snakes, whispering to them as they swallowed their prey whole, humming and babbling as though she were merely an average little girl picking flowers in a garden. When compared to her sisters, Tyene seemed harmless. Her cousin Mors however, knew her better.

Coming up beside his small cousin, Mors opened one of the wicker cages and reached his hand inside.  Fingertips brushed against scales as he reached passed creature housed within the rudimentary enclosure.  Finding the hidden latch behind the mass of hissing muscle Mors rooted around within the cache and pulled forth a collection of scrolls.  The underground workshop had once been used by a Maester, long before Maester Caleotte’s time at the castle or even the Citadel. The wall at the rear of the dark stone room had once housed a grand bookcase where those who utilized the space in years past would have stored scrolls, tomes and parchment.  It was against these shelves that Mors kept his slithering friends, each one guarding a hidden cache. Books, maps and learning material more fitting for a Lordling could be found in the grand library, or Maester Caleotte’s study. Mors’ workshop held more sinister secrets, and thus required more sinister assurances of their safekeeping. 

“Mors, how come they never bite you?” Tyene asked, following her cousin from the wall of wicker cages and hidden parchment to the desk upon which he spread out the scrolls he had collected.

“You always ask me this…” Mors started as he sat at his desk and dipped his quill into the adjacent inkwell. 

“And you always say that you don’t know.” Tyene returned stubbornly. 

“Because I don’t.”

“Is it because you’re not afraid?” She pressed.

“Maybe.”

“Is it because you’re cursed?” When Mors head snapped up and his yellow eyes met her deep blue ones she folded her hands behind her back and tilted her head to the side innocently.

“Who told you that?” He asked in return.

“Arika.” Tyene answered. 

“You shouldn’t listen to Arika.” Mors said with pursed lips, turning back to the parchment upon which he began to write.  “In fact, you should stay away from Arika all together.” Tyene did not answer her cousin but instead turned away from his desk and wandered back towards her serpentine friends.  Mors worked away in silence for a time before hearing a small, sharp intake of breath. Looking up, he saw the door of one of the wicker cages fall shut and Tyene pull her hand back to cradle it against her chest. 

“Did she bite you?” Mors asked in a patient voice. 

“No…” Tyene began, her voice unable to hold the lie on her tongue. 

“Tyene…” Mors said in a low, warning voice.  Obediently, his golden haired cousin walked back over to his desk and extended her hand to him, the tip of her finger bleeding.  Sighing, Mors pulled a knife and kerchief from his pockets. Taking his cousin’s finger in hand, he made a small incision, angling her hand over the kerchief so that the poison would bleed out.  She didn’t flinch, but instead watched her cousin with her wide, ever-curious blue eyes.

“Didn’t I tell you to be careful?” He asked her, his tone light. 

“How come they never bite you?” She asked again.

“I don’t know.” Mors told her, because it was the truth. 

“If you’re cursed, does that mean I’m cursed too?” Being as young as she was, there was always another question on the tip of her tongue.  Fortunately, Mors didn’t mind humouring her.

“No.” He returned in the matter-of-fact voice he used when explaining things to his cousins.  “You are not, nor have you ever been, cursed.”

“What about Princess Aeranys?” She inquired further.  “If she marries you, will she be cursed?”

“Let’s hope not.”

The next morning, Mors was filled with sweet words for Tyene and her sisters, bidding farewell to his cousins and siblings.  Less than a month ago, Mors had returned by ship to the realm he would inherit from his father, now he departed once more by the same ships and the same docks.  They prepared to cast off, the collective forces of Tor and High Hermitage already loaded into the galleys of the Dornish fleet. Mors stood with his uncle Oberyn at his side, Lord Gerold Dayne at his other.  The man had the Valyrian look of the descendants of Starfall, sharp violet eyes and long silver hair, interrupted by a streak of black. He was not an individual well known for inspiring love, but Mors wasn’t looking to be loved by the Stormlanders.  He was more interested in crushing them.

“Maester Caleotte,” Mors began as he stepped up to the aging man.  “Get this to my father.” He commanded, extending a scroll with his personal seal upon it.  “Choose your best man, someone you trust, and ensure that this message is placed into only my father’s hand.”

“B-but, Prince Mors… I have no idea where you father is… His instructions were very clear before his departure that none--” He meant to go on, but Mors was interrupting him.

“We’re past these silly games, old friend.” The voice with which Mors spoke was steady and clear, he left no room in his stern tone or his intense gaze for contestation.  “I did not ask you to reveal his location or his business. I don’t know where he is but don’t insult my intelligence by trying to convince me that you also do not.” Encroaching further on the Maester’s personal space, he took his hand and closed it around the scroll.  “Get this to him. I’m counting on you, Caleotte.” Nodding somberly, the Maester took the scroll and headed at once down the docks.

“Sunspear is yours, sister.” Mors began as he turned to Arianne.  “Keep it well.”

“I will.” Arianne answered dutifully.  For a moment, it seemed as though she might maintain her facade of stoicism.  When she glimpsed that tiny ghost of a smile that sometimes made an appearance on her brother’s handsome face, she broke the act.  Leaping into her brother she threw her arms around his neck and squeezed tight like she used to when they were only children. “Don’t leave me alone with our father.” She meant the words in jest, but there was a touch of truth to their ring.  Doran Martell, for all the favour he had shown his sons, had never allowed his tenderness to reach his daughter. “Don’t leave me alone in this world.”

“Never.” Mors returned, his smile getting a bit fuller.  “I’ll be back before you know it.” He pulled away from Arianne’s embrace and read the concerned painted on her pretty face.  Mors and his sister had always been close, Prince Doran often comparing his children’s bond with that of his siblings, Oberyn and Elia.  Furrowing his brow, he pushed her dark, curly locks out of her face and studied her expression. “You’re worried about something.” He observed. 

“The men say there’s a storm on the horizon.” She told him, chewing the bottom of her full lip anxiously. 

“I’ve never been afraid of storms.”

“You’ve never been afraid of anything, Mors.” Arianne pointed out.  “That’s what worries me.”
Title: Re: The Golden Sun and the Silver Moon [m]
Post by: asterin on May 28, 2019, 11:48:55 PM
Another day. Another day of being nothing but a hostage, a bird locked away in a cage. It was a feeling that wasn’t altogether unfamiliar to the princess, if she would allow herself to be perfectly truthful. Over the course of her life starting from a young lass to the lady she was now, she’d been held back and trapped by various things--her station, her gender, her duties, the ever-lingering memories. By now she had become exceptionally skilled at surrendering herself to it, accepting what was doled out to her with a dignified face.

This time, however, Aeranys could not. This time, it wasn’t some selfish little desire that she was having to let go--this time, everything was at stake. Just because she was being held here, it did not mean that time stopped marching by. Every minute, every hour, every day that passed, the scales were tipping.

There was no word about any Targaryen fleets or Martell forces, though she knew that even if there had been, she would be the last one to be informed. There was very little information she actually had--but she knew Ser Laenor was alive and being fed, as she had learned from a somewhat reluctant Serra.

As if conjured by her thoughts, she heard the sound of familiar footsteps leading up to the door. The other servant, a blonde, blue-eyed woman who had only frowned when Aeranys had asked for her name, had only come once in the past several days to change her bedding.

“Thank you for bringing me my meal, Serra.”

For three days she’d repeated the words, each time with a smile, and she’d been prepared to repeat that once more. But when the girl came in, another red welt blossoming across her face in a place too obvious to be covered with her dark locks--when she saw those brown eyes filled to the brim with a certain shame she knew all too well, neither smile nor niceties could be summoned forth. Serra hurriedly placed the tray down, but the princess wasn’t about to let her pretend like nothing was wrong.

“Who did that to you?” Her voice was soft, but her pale eyes were ablaze. Serra said nothing, looked away, and Aeranys felt her fingers curl up into themselves. That was how it always went. It was how it always went…

“Sit,” she told her, gesturing to the bed. For a moment Serra hesitated, but unable to argue with the look in the princess’ eyes, she seated herself timidly on the edge of the mattress. On the other hand, Aeranys busied herself with fetching the cloth napkin off the tray and dipping it into the jug of water that had been brought to her, promptly wringing the moisture out with the sort of ease that would’ve been better suited to a laundress than the daughter of a king. Turning back to the nervous looking girl, she carefully brushed back her hair to dab the cool cloth against the reddened skin. “It was the steward, wasn’t it? Ser Brryan Storm.” The serving girl wordlessly avoided her knowing gaze, but the way her lips pursed was enough. “The rings,” she answered her silent question, her words quiet and calm. “They leave welts and cuts.” She flipped the folded cloth, pressing the fresh side to her battered skin. “That, and he has quite a distinctive voice.”

“I was fooling off, doing things I have no place doing…” the dark haired girl finally mumbled.

“I can’t imagine it was anything that warranted this,” Aeranys replied shortly, unimpressed by the words that were clearly more the steward’s than Serra’s. “Don’t you think so?”

She paused. “I don’t know,” she started. “M’lady. Betha seems to think it’s silly too, for someone like me to be tryin’ to learn to read like I’ll become a Maester…” Her cheeks reddened a bit as she trailed off, clearly having taken the ridicule to heart.

“That’s not silly at all,” Aeranys spoke at once, her words so firm and matter-of-fact that they caused the serving girl to look up in surprise. “In fact, I’d say that they are the ones doing things they have no place doing by putting that thought in your head. Trying to stop someone from learning is a foolish thing.” Her mother had stopped her from doing a great many things that were thought to be unladylike, but the one thing she’d never been barred from was learning just as her brothers did--well, as long as it was academic.

Serra looked down again, not daring to agree with her, but a small, shy smile flitted by her lips. Aeranys offered her a gentle smile in turn before sitting down on the bed, shoulder to shoulder with the other girl. She was skinny--or perhaps scrawny was the right word, and up close, it was clear that she was younger than her weary face let on. She was likely no older than young Elaena, barely past her majority, Aeranys thought to herself. “Do you know your letters?” the princess continued suddenly, and Serra’s gaze skittered upwards towards her again.

“Some, m’lady.”

“Can you write your name?”

“...No, m’lady.”

“Would you like to?” Aeranys finally asked. The serving girl’s mouth parted, her eyes filled with panic. “It wouldn’t take long,” the princess spoke before she could protest. “A letter a meal. It’d be done in one day.” Her gaze softened, her smile turning slightly wry. “And I won’t ask you for anything. Well, other than to continue bringing me and Ser Laenor our meals,” she reassured the girl.

Strangely enough, what she said seemed to make her even more ill-at-ease. Her dark brows furrowed as she struggled to meet the princess’ eyes, but when she did, the words that came out of her mouth caused her heart to plunge into her stomach.

“About the knight, m'lady…”


+++++++


It was dark...damp… and cold. Why was it so cold? The smell of metal in the air, in his nostrils, his mouth...which was it? All of it? Alone and swimming in and out of consciousness, the youngest knight of the Kingsguard was caught between wanting to cry for help and not knowing whom to call. When he’d had the fever in his eighth year, he’d called for his lady mother, and her soft, gentle hand had cooled his feverish forehead--and yet, even as his thoughts wandered and wavered, Laenor was distinctly aware that this was not Driftmark. His brothers, or even his sworn brothers wearing the white cloak--no one could answer if he called, for this was not King’s Landing.

When was the last time he’d felt so afraid? He tried to think, struggled to put the pieces together. Even when the Lady Luck had been seized, even when he’d been ready to step out of the vault to face whatever death awaited him, he hadn’t felt afraid. He hadn’t been afraid to lay his life down for the princess, but now, locked in the damp and dark, wracked with pain and fever, the bite of fear was fresh and sharp. So was regret--he’d failed. He couldn’t tell anymore where he’d started making all the wrong choices, but he knew he’d failed them all--his father’s expectations, the king’s trust, his princess, his honor and duty as a member of the Kingsguard…

He should’ve died a warrior’s death, cutting down as many men as he could before meeting his end. Instead, he’d succumbed to the feeling of his lady liege’s hand on his sleeve, her quiet words even as they battered the door down: you’ll be no use or protection to me dead. She’d saved his life, perhaps, for the swarm of men that had taken them would’ve worn down a lone knight, but for what? What use was he to her, half out of his mind and rotting away in this place? What use was he to her now, now that--

A distant sound caused him to stir, blinking wretchedly in the gloom. A light, blinding and bright, was approaching, but try as he might he could barely lift his head. Halting footsteps, growing closer and closer. His sea-green eyes roved uselessly, trying to discern his sudden visitor, but he could not make out their face against the light. “Ser Laenor?” came a whispered voice.

He opened his mouth, but his parched throat only let out a mangled sound. Then something was against his lips, a waterskin, he realized, a moment after he’d already started drinking. “Princess?” his voice was still hoarse as his head lolled against his shoulders. Why would she be here? whatever was left of his sense murmured, but he was past common sense. “Princess, I’ve failed you…” he continued, even as his words threatened to slur together. “How can I protect you now, princess? My hand...my hand--” a horrid, strangled sound heaved through him as he tried to raise the limp arm curled to his body. “H-how…”

The voice only shushed him softly, taking a hold of his ruined limb with quick and nimble fingers. There was the sound of another flask being opened, and then a searing pain overtook him--then soon after, darkness.


+++++++


Night had fallen hours ago. The last candles and torches had burnt out, and an eerie silence had fallen over the island. The storm that had been raging had finally come to an uneasy peace, and for the first time she could see the moon illuminating the night sky. It was under the moonlight that she lay awake, near trembling with alertness.

It was hardly surprising that all thoughts of sleep had abandoned her once Serra had told her what had become of poor Ser Laenor, but it was not the horror that was keeping her awake--not entirely. Though it’d been dreadful news to receive, she’d kept her calm. The first thing she’d asked after his current wellbeing was whether Serra knew which hand had been taken, the answer to which had been the right hand; whether they had intentionally cut off his non-dominant hand or had simply not been aware that he was left-handed, she could not tell. The important thing was that despite having amputated a hand, Serra had been instructed to keep him fed and his wounds tended to. They weren’t planning on killing him yet, which likely meant that they had taken the hand as a threat to be sent to King’s Landing, to show that they were willing to do worse to him and perhaps even the princess herself. The chances of her father and the small council launching the ships anyhow were beginning to look even more dismal, and as for the Martells, well…she could not say.

A betrothal was not a marriage, not yet. Besides, any shrewd man would be thinking of the potential damage that he himself might take on if he should ally with the losing side--and she did not think Doran Martell was a fool. No. 

The princess sat up, her pale eyes glinting silver in the moonbeams as she turned to the narrow window. Even if the small council was sending every last able-bodied man in the Crownlands towards this isle right this moment, even if the Martells were waging war from the south, she could not have the luxury of assuming that was true. No, she had no choice but to rely on what she had to work with, no matter how unfavorable her situation. Most of her things had been confiscated along with the rest of the Lady Luck’s goods, leaving her with the few items she had on her person that had escaped notice. Unfortunately, none of those things were an army, ship, or whatever magical item that would whisk her away from this prison. She was no master spy or swordsman, and the closest person she had to that was badly injured and locked up somewhere in the manse.

Reaching down, she wriggled her fingers into a small gap she had cut into the mattress. A few moments later, she laid out the few items onto the bed: the lone black king piece, her mother’s bracelet, and a slim ivory case with engravings decorating it. It was the case she chose, opening it to reveal a tool with a matching carved ivory handle and a small blade at the end--a quill knife, well used over the years. Rhaegar had commissioned three and gifted one to each of them on their namedays, handles and boxes carved out of different materials but with a dragon engraved into each of them--three dragons for three siblings, just like the three-headed dragon of their sigil.

Lifting the quill knife out of the case, she ran the pad of her thumb over the edge of the blade. It was hardly Valyrian steel, but it didn’t have to be. It was plenty sharp enough for what she had in mind. Kneeling over the mattress, she bared her arm over the clean linens and sucked in a slow breath. This could be foolishness, madness, recklessness--this could all be for naught. But she had to try, didn’t she?

With one another trembling breath, she drew the blade over her forearm, penning a thin red line on her fair skin. Not deep enough, she mentally chastised herself, biting her lip. This is not the time to be soft. Her thoughts went to her mother, the scratches, the bruises, then to Ser Laenor, with a whole hand lopped off and gone. She thought of the wildfire, twisting sickly green and consuming flesh and bone alive. This was nothing in comparison, absolutely nothing; her hands steadied, her breathing too. The second cut was smoother, deeper, and Aeranys watched, half mesmerized by the way the cut welled up, blood beading up fast before streaking downwards. Not enough. Again, she commanded herself. The third time was even easier, and soon red flowers were blooming large against the white linens, spelling out the beginning of her strange plan.
Title: Re: The Golden Sun and the Silver Moon [m]
Post by: Reigning King on May 29, 2019, 12:28:00 AM
“You remind me of your father.”

Mors had his back turned to Oberyn as his uncle spoke to him.  Yellow eyes paid no mind to the man who joined him in his cabins aboard their vessel, but instead focused on the wicker baskets nestled within barrels and netting to soften the sway of the storm.  In one hand he held the weighted lid that he had lifted from the basket whilst the other reached inside. With a practiced care that contradicted his young years, Mors pulled forth a large mass of scaled muscle.  As though the predatory creature were naught but a trinket, he draped the serpent around his neck. She slithered and hissed, coiling herself about his upper body but never tightening her grip, though if she did she could snap his bones with ease. 

“How curious…” Mors mused as he replaced the lid of the wicker basket, having liberated its previous inhabitant.  “My father often tells me that I remind him of you.”

“You are both a fighter and a lover, quick like a snake but pensive like the desert sands… These are qualities all Dornishmen share.” He pointed out, a throaty chuckle on his voice.  The words were spoken in a dramatic fashion, as they often were with Oberyn, a certain whimsical, story-like quality about them.

“My father isn’t like that.” Mors returned.

“No, he isn’t.” Oberyn agreed.

“Then how is it that I remind you of him?” He asked.  Oberyn had opened his mouth to reply to his nephew, but was interrupted by a shout from the main deck. 

“Prepared to board, my Prince!”

“Perhaps, that is a conversation for another time.”  With a gesture, Oberyn allowed Mors to pass him and climb the few stairs that would lead them to the main deck, following in tow behind him and the great yellow snake that sat lazily around his shoulders. 

As Mors strode out onto the deck of the Dawn and her crew, barely flinching against the wind and rain that beat against his handsome face, the snake around his neck drew itself into the folds of his layers. The ship swayed violently in the storm, her mast threatening to collide at any moment with that of the neighbouring ship that docked alongside them.  The glimmering banners of House Martell flapping alongside the tattered black of pirates’ colours. Between the two vessels, a humble, narrow plank had been laid to allow those from the Dawn to cross over and board the Dread. Awaiting him, shoulder to shoulder with seafaring scum, stood those few who represented Mors’ advisors. Missing were Lords Gerold and Jordayne, both travelling at the head of the fleet among the company of their own men.  Among the small numbers were only those Mors trusted most, including his best blade, a knight of House Martell, Natari’s brother, Devran Toyne. Of those standing in wait, it was only Devran’s shoulder that Mors laid his hand upon, indicating in a silent way over the scream of the storm that it was only his favourite knight who was to join Princes Oberyn and Mors Nymeros Martell in their negotiations. Without hesitating, or even looking down, Mors strode across the plank, his boots thudding against the deck of the Dread as he marched into the captain’s cabins of the Pirate King’s flag ship. 

“Let’s try this again.” Mors said lowly, the blood that had soaked into his boots squishing between his toes as the wooden deck creaked beneath his feet.  He stooped next to the body that lay sprawled on the lavishly carpeted floors of the Pirate King’s cabins. Of course, he wasn’t the Pirate King, only one of them.  At least, he had been.

Oberyn and Devran stood against the far wall, unaffected and untouched by the gore before them.   By contrast, Mors plucked a black, leather captain’s hat from the bloody floor, crimson splattered against his handsome face and silk-clad front.  Next to him, the yellow scales that had been hidden within his layers now writhed against the floor, wiggling muscle assisting an unhinged jaw in swallowing the corpse of the man who had once called himself the Pirate King of the Narrow Sea.  Mors wiped the blood covered hat against the length of his layers, striding towards the other pirates who stood among them. At the beginning of their parlay, they had made jokes at his expense regarding his pretty disposition and youthful appearance.  Now they shrunk away from the boy they had previously described as a mere babe in ill-fated jest. He extended his arm and dropped the hat onto the head of the first-mate of the Dread, a mean smile overtaking his pretty features and making him look like something pulled forth from a nightmare rather than a dream. 

“What are you going to do?” Mors asked the man before him.  He must have been his senior by at least twenty years and yet the heir of Dorne spoke to him as though he were his seven year old cousin.  The aging pirate responded in kind, acting the part.

“Raid the coast of the Stormlands.” He answered at once obediently. 

“Until?” Mors prompted. 

“Until there’s nothing left.”

“Very good.” Mors answered, his devilish smile softening into something gentler but no less venomous.  He stepped back slightly from the first-mate, now captain, giving the pirate a bit of breathing room. “Now, what do they call you, friend?” He asked in a pleasant voice that likely only unsettled the sea-bound scoundrel more.

“Zoba.” He answered, a quiver on his voice.  Thick pink lips were pressed into a thin line, muscles tensed beneath the rich, earthy hue of his complexion. 

“All hail King Zoba, Pirate King of the Narrow Sea.” As Mors brought his palms together, clapping them slowly and deliberately, blood spit from his slapping hands into the face of the Pirate King.


* * * * *


The storm had broken further North, as they entered the waters surrounding the Island of Greenstone.  High rough waves gave way to calm seas, dark clouds parting to reveal the shining sun in a clearer sky.  When the Dawn joined her sisters within the fleet, the sun was beginning its journey towards the western horizon.  They remained beyond the view of the watchtowers of Greenstone, galleys anchored and oars lifted out of the water. As the light began to leave the sky the seas remained dark and still.  No lamps to illuminate their decks, no flapping sails to carry them forth, not even a whisper from lips for leagues in any direction. Only the whistling of the wind and the small flickering of the island in the distance kept Mors company as he stood at the prow of the ship, looking out across the blackness of the seas at night.  His arms were crossed over his chest, yellow eyes staring out at the distant point of light, at a glance he might look to be the figurehead carved from wood and fixed to the bow. It was hard to say how long Mors had been standing out on the deck in the night air before Devran came up beside him, or for how long the two young men had stood alongside one another in silence.

“If you’re planning on saying something sentimental, swallow the words.” Mors said suddenly, his voice breaking across the stillness of the night. 

“How did you know?” Devran returned, his own expression as stoic and serious as that of his liege. 

“You grind your teeth before you speak from your heart.” Devran had nothing to say to that, and so Mors continued, adding, “you won’t be dying tonight, friend.”

“I do not fear death.” Devran returned plainly, rarely any hint emotion touching upon his serious voice and unchanging expression.  “Only failure.”

“You have never failed me, Devran.” Mors returned.  “But if you do, just know… I’ve always hated you.”

“And I, you.” The knight returned at once.  Both men slowly slid their gazes to one another and then observed as in equal measure a coy smirk appeared on both their olive-skinned mouths.  They chucked quietly between them as Devran reached out to slap a hand against Mors chest, where beneath his layers a thick white scar had been left by the blade of his own favoured night.  In return, Mors slapped a hand against Devran’s side, where beneath his chain mail he had gifted unto his friend a matching scar of his own in kind.

Mors and Devran had been close from the time they were young boys.  In the years before Mors had been sent to foster at Starfall, they had been practically inseparable.  Wherever you might find one, the other was sure to be close by. Their friendship was born upon the training sands of Sunspear.  Devran had been the only boy in all of Dorne who wasn’t afraid to draw blood from the young heir, an early lesson that Mors had carried with him throughout his years.  The eldest born child to Prince Doran Martell had a peculiar relationship with the children of Sunspear’s Master at Arms. While Mors bore affection for many in his life; his parents, siblings, cousins and friends… theirs had always differed.  The love he had for Natari was expressed uniquely from that of other women who had captured his attention. So too, the place in his heart saved for Devran was shaped differently than that of the others boys he had called brother.

The flickering, distant light grew into a brighter glow, silencing both men and drawing their eyes from one another.  The shine emanating from the island widened until it looked as though the sun were rising from the point on the horizon that the maps in his cabins below deck marked as Greenstone.  The forces of High Hermitage had made ground and had put the village to the torch. If he listened close enough, Mors could almost hear the screams rising as the alarms were sounded.  Based on the numbers and the nature of the attack, the Stormlanders would assume a raiding party had landed on their shores, brought forth from the passing of the storm. They would rally their remaining numbers to the Northern shores from which Lord Gerold had led the ambush.  Little did they know, there were things worse than raiders, worse than storms…

“That’s the signal.” Devran urged quietly. 

“Give the order.” 

Taking in a deep breath as he turned from his friend, his commander, his liege, Devran started down the length of the deck as he called out in a voice that thundered across the quiet dark decks of the Dornish fleet.  “All hands! Anchors up! Soldiers to rows!” Suddenly, lamps were illuminated, sails pulled free and oars dropped into waiting waters as the seas surrounding Greenstone came alive. The red canvas of the fleet gleamed bright against the glow of the burning island as the Dawn lurched forward, taking the lead as her sisters followed after, reds growing pregnant with the encouraging winds.  It was all Mors could do to keep the smile from his face as he drew forth his scimitar from its sheath, shining more resplendently as they drew closer to the growing flames. He was patient in all areas of his life except for this one and as the ship drew closer and closer to Greenstone his anticipation mounted. By the time her belly had grounded into the island’s stony shores, and brave men donning the colours of Lord Estermont noble House surrounded her galley, he was practically foaming at the mouth.  He leapt from the edge of the ship, soldiers landing beside him and splashing into the knee-deep water as the few fighting men left on Greenstone, who must have known they were doomed from the outset, rushed them.

For a moment, everything slowed down and came to a sudden stop for Mors.  He could hear his breathing in his ears, keen yellow-eyes charting the trajectory of each swinging blade that surrounded him.  It was always here, right at this exact moment, that Mors felt a euphoric bliss wash over him. Never did he feel so himself, than when he was about to let go.  Taking in a deep breath, he let the smell of blood, salt, shit and terror fill him up, invigorating and hypnotizing him the way it did in his dreams. He had learned from a young age to control these things about him, these haunted, hungry things and with each word he spoke and each action he took he showed restraint.  But not here. Here, he could let go. As the breath he had been holding fell past his lips, he released the tether that held him onto the firm ground of the civilized. With a smile stretched over his boyish face, he rushed forward to meet them.

Chaos raged around him.  The forces of House Jordayne had overtaken the shoreline, Mors and his personal guard leading the vanguard that pushed Lord Estermont’s forces back until they were forced into retreating to the manse.  Greenstone was a small island, their fortress hardly a castle, fortifications easily broken through by the Stony Dornishmen of High Hermitage, built as robust and reliable as the mountains that surrounded their home.  The battering ram smashed against the gates of the fortress as cries and screams rang out from within. Mors watched as his men heaved the steel-tipped structure into the splintering wood that barred him from his bloodshed.  The Targaryen girl was far from his mind as he paced back and forth, his scimitar in one hand and his Norvosi axe in the other. His shield he had surrendered back in the village, after having used it to split open a blacksmith’s head.  In paintings blood was always drawn in vivid reds, but in reality it dried dark, nearly black, cracking against the smile that remained painted across Mors face. It stained his clothes and stuck his raven curls to his cheeks but he only smiled and watched as the battering ram smashed through the gates. 

A small hole had been breached from the siege tool, just enough for a small flow of men to enter, and arrows began flying from within to prevent entry.  Most men would have waited for their opportunity to go in for the kill. The risk was great, the payoff potential low and with a few more swings of the battering ram the gate might come down altogether.  Mors however, was not most men. Sheathing his scimitar and choking up on his grip with his axe, he strode forward, snatching another soldier’s shield from them as he went. He quickened his pace until he had broken into a run, leaping up onto the battering ram and rushing straight for the opening that had been made.  Arrows stuck into the shield but none of them touched him as he lunged forward, driving his shield into the collection of archers. They sprawled back as he fell on top of them, but before any could recover and draw and arrow against the string of their bow, Mors had started swinging his axe. With that terrible smile still plastered on a face that no longer looked boyish and charming but instead crazed and savage, he swung his axe until it was impossible to tell which parts belonged to which man.  Dornishmen flowed into the courtyard of the fortress like a screaming stream of demons, renewed in their lust for blood by the barbaric showing of their Prince. The pandemonium swirled around him and he drank it in like dying man in the desert to an oasis, giving himself over to every instinct he resisted, every impulse he ignored.

“Please!  Please!” An old man begged, inching towards Mors as he pulled an arrow from his shoulder that one of the archers had managed to stick him with.  He held his hands over his head in surrender, expensive rings decorating his fingers. Barely batting an eye, he raised his arm and brought his axe down on him without ceremony.  His face split open, his jaw hanging loosely by one dangling tendon before he toppled over. Judging from his clothes, he had been someone of import. Now, he was unrecognizable as whatever man he might have once been.  Mors looked down at him, leaning forward slightly as he watched the last few ragged breaths sputter from his broken body. He died, and Mors enjoyed it without apology. When he looked up, he realized that he was being observed by a small collection of civilians.  He smiled at them, and revelled in the way they all collectively shuddered at the horror.

“I’m looking for my bride.” He called as he started towards them, his axe swinging in his hand like a child with a toy.  It was clear that this particular group had been looking to flee, but had been herded into a corner by the fighting. They looked cleaner than the village folk, but not so clean as to be of standing.  Household staff, perhaps. Corpses, soon enough.

“Could any of you tell me where to find her?” Mors asked.  When he was met with only silence, he shrugged and rose his axe, inspiring one among them to find his voice. 

“Wait! She’s been kept in the west-wing!” He shouted.  A pale-faced Stormlander, he looked about the same age as Mors.  As he spoke, Devran and his regiment came upon the scene. As always, the knight found his place at his liege’s side. 

“West-wing.” Mors repeated, his smile falling away to make room for a more thoughtful expression.  It was harder for Mors to think at times like this. Sensibility and patience had surrendered to blood lust.  Fortunately, Devran was there.

“Get up.” He commanded, two of his men hoisting the cup bearer to his feet and hauling him away from those he had been cowering with.  “You’re going to show us.”

“Kill them.” Mors ordered offhanded to the other soldiers, who at once turned their blades on to those remaining as the young man they dragged away screamed and sobbed, watching his friends butchered.  Yes, there were things worse than raiders and worse than storms… A monster by the name of Mors Nymeros Martell had come to Greenstone, and he was terribly, terribly hungry.
Title: Re: The Golden Sun and the Silver Moon [m]
Post by: asterin on May 29, 2019, 12:47:02 AM
Despite only having served the captured princess for a brief stretch of time, Serra already knew what to expect when she brought her the morning meal. Without fail she would already be awake and dressed, waiting expectantly with a smile on her face--and so, when she entered the room to find the princess unmoving in bed, uneasiness immediately swept over her. “M’lady..?” she called timidly, hurriedly putting down the tray of simple fare to hover over her still figure. “M’lady, are you alright?”

She stirred under her tentative touch, her oddly colored eyes sliding open to squint at her in the morning light. For a moment she looked confused, but then recognition seemed to settle in. “Serra..? Is it morning already?” she asked faintly.

“Yes, m’lady. Are...you feeling unwell?” the dark-haired girl inquired, noticing how face appeared paler than usual.

“No, no, I’m fine,” the princess shook her head slightly as if to wave off the notion, shifting to sit up in bed as she spoke. “I didn’t sleep well…” Suddenly she trailed off, the fatigue and sleep slipping away from her eyes as if she’d come to an uncomfortable realization. Frowning, she flung the blankets off of herself to reveal the telltale smear of red on the white linens below her, the dark of the dried and the brilliant crimson of fresh blood mingled together.

For a second the princess was silent, seemingly at a loss for words--and at the sight of her, eyes averted and her pallid cheeks flushed with shame, Serra realized it was her turn to be kind. “There’s no need to worry, m’lady, I’ll have Betha bring fresh linens at once,” the maid immediately reassured her, her normally thin voice warm with sympathy. Having the blood was never much of a welcome thing, even once one grew accustomed to it, but she had no doubt that these circumstances made it doubly disagreeable for the captive princess. “I’ll bring you a cup of warm broth as well. It’ll ease the pain,” she added.

“Thank you, Serra,” the princess murmured softly, an apologetic smile gracing her lips, and Serra felt a small rush of relief at the sight of it.

“I’ll be back right away, m’lady.” With a wisp of a shy smile, she started towards the door, only to turn back around towards the young woman sitting up in bed. “Is there anything else I can get you?” she asked, wondering if there was something that might help make her more comfortable. The answer she received, however, wasn’t anything she’d anticipated.

“Something to write with, perhaps?”

Her eyebrows furrowed in confusion. “M’lady?”

“Your letters,” the princess reminded her, her soft smile returning. “So you can write your name. You haven’t forgotten already, have you?”

Of course she hadn’t. No, it’d been all she’d been able to think about while preparing breakfast in the first place, but… “Oh no, m’lady, surely you need your rest,” Serra protested, her hands fiddling nervously.

“As I said before, it won’t take long,” she insisted, her voice gentle but unyielding. “Besides, a promise is a promise, isn’t it?”




********


“S-E-R-R-A. Serra.”

Aeranys watched approvingly as the younger girl whispered the words over and over again, a damp finger tracing out the letters on the wooden tray. Finding parchment and ink had proved too risky, so they’d improvised using that they had on hand. Sitting by the fireplace, they spoke quietly so that the crackle of the flame and wood would snuff out their words, the warm glow also serving to illuminate the darkening room.

The princess had spent the majority of the day lying down in bed--which had made the day stretch longer than any other--disturbed only by two women. Betha, tight-lipped with displeasure, had come to change her sheets right before the midday meal with the smell of cooking on her, the same as she had done several days prior. Serra, on the other hand, came rushing into the room with meals, her eyes lit up with excitement. Much to her delight, Serra was a quick study, and the maid was already able to write her name and several other words at a fair speed. So vigorous was she in her determination, Aeranys was half afraid she would rub her finger raw against the wood. “Very good,” she nodded, a genuine smile on her lips. Dark brown eyes wandered up to hers bashfully as her head shook to-and-fro in modesty, but it was clear to see how pleased the girl was--and she was far from being the only one.

“Could you teach me to write another name?” Serra asked, uncharacteristically eager, and the princess turned to the girl with an accommodating nod.

“Of course, I’ll do my best,” she agreed. She listened carefully to the name Serra spoke, then penned out her best guess of the spelling after dipping her finger into the jug of water. “Roslyn...R-O-S-L-Y-N.” The brunette stared intently, immediately tracing the letters with her own finger. The name faded and disappeared, but her gaze did not waver once as she sat, suddenly wordless and still. “It’s a very pretty name,” the princess commented softly, breaking the heavy silence.

“It was my mother’s name. She was a healer,” the words came haltingly at first, but then it seemed as if the floodgates had opened as the timid maid spoke. “She knew how to read and write, my mother. She tried to teach my father, but he never took to it,” she shook her head with a wry smile, but her eyes were far away, filled with the past. “She was teaching me my first few letters when she died giving birth to my brother, so I never got to learn proper…” Serra trailed off, still looking down at the tray.

“You must’ve been very young when you lost her,” Aeranys murmured solemnly, her hand resting briefly on the maid’s. “I’m sorry.” She’d lost Daeron--brother, friend, betrothed--but she could not know what it was like to lose a parent, to lose someone who’d been ever-present in one’s life from the very beginning. She swallowed, her thoughts going back to her own mother, but after a moment’s struggle, she managed to yank them back.

“Thank you, m’lady, but I was alright. I had my father and my brother,” Serra began again, and her posture straightened slightly. “I was never alone. But my mother, she left all these books behind, books she handwrote, too, and all I ever wanted was to be able to read them. To learn what she had known, to know what she’d thought, felt, to know...her,” she said wistfully, her voice a near whisper.

“You’re almost there,” Aeranys encouraged, “You already know half of the letters. Once you can sound all them out, you’ll be reading.”

“Yes,” Serra breathed, a delighted gleam in her eyes. “Soon.” She turned to the princess, smiling timidly. “I cannot thank you enough, m’lady.”

“It’s my pleasure,” she murmured back, smiling despite the stab of guilt she felt. If only they had met under different circumstances, the princess would have gladly taught Serra her letters from beginning to end, until she could read and write like any highborn child. Instead, teaching her to write a few names was about all she could do for the young maid. After all, if all went well, tomorrow…

She lay in the darkness after Serra bid her good night, waiting for the manse to sink into slumber. She would not be getting much sleep, if only for the thoughts that were running wildly amok in her head. She rose, teasing out the penknife from its hiding place, then carefully lifted her sleeve. It was bound up with the linen she had been given “for the blood,” and she gingerly unwrapped the makeshift bandage to reveal the cuts, still glistening with blood she’d shed for the first cotton square she’d been offered in the morning. Holding her breath, she drew the knife across her arm, feeling the now-familiar sensation of a blade cutting into flesh. Again and again, she bled herself over the mattress until she was satisfied, then stemmed the blood with a handful of her nightgown. Once she had bound up the arm, Aeranys fell back onto the bed. The cuts throbbed in time to the pounding in her ears, and she released a shuddering breath as she ran through the details of her plan incessantly, without pause. Madness, foolishness--she still could not tell.

It did not matter, she supposed. The answer was sure to come to her clearly enough on the morrow.

And yet, that did not stop her from worrying. When her mind finally let her fall asleep, she slipped straight into the midst of a fitful dream. It was dark, no candle allotted her to light up the pitch black, and yet she knew she was in Maegor’s Holdfast. She could sense the presence of others around her, muffled sobs and muttered prayers, held breaths and hymns--and outside, she could feel the beasts waiting, prowling, clawing at the stones. They sensed her too. They waited for her, maws opened wide and grinning.

Title: Re: The Golden Sun and the Silver Moon [m]
Post by: asterin on May 29, 2019, 12:47:36 AM
*********


This morning was near identical to the one before it. After having spilled fresh blood over the old, she feigned sleep until the thin serving girl came to wake her with food. She almost seemed to expect the discovery of bloodied sheets, and she nodded smartly before once more reassuring her with the idea of fresh linens. “I’ll let Betha know, m’lady,” she smiled kindly, bringing her the tray that held a bowl of hot stew. “I hope you were at least able to sleep better last night, m’lady,” she added, seeming eager to keep her spirits high. It was surprising, seeing how when she’d first met Serra, she’d been so timid and unwilling to speak, but it was a pleasant turn of events to the princess.

“I had another sleepless night,” Aeranys admitted, not at all a lie. “I think I may try to sleep after Betha brings the linens.”

“She’ll likely come by a bit later--about midday? She does most of the cooking,” Serra explained apologetically. “I can try and see if she can stop by first…”

“No, that’s alright,” the young woman waved her hand, “Midday should do just fine. It’s not good to sleep right after a large meal, I’ve been told.” She paused for a moment, thinking, then spoke decisively. “In fact--you needn’t bring me any more meals today. I’d just like to get some rest, and I don’t often feel hungry when it’s the time of flowering.”

“As you say, m’lady,” the maid nodded, and Aeranys felt a small wave of relief wash over her. After all, if Serra were to bring her meals, she might end up finding Betha gagged and bound in the princess’ bed--or worse, walk in on the swap happening. She didn’t want to get the sweet maid involved if possible, and this was the best way to keep her out of the way of endangering herself or Aeranys’ plan. “Is there anything I get you before then?” she asked earnestly, completely unaware of the deception at play.

“Ser Laenor--how does he fare?” she asked, unable to keep herself from asking.

Luckily, Serra didn’t hesitate to answer. “He is still weak, but his fever has left him,” she informed her, her voice soothing. “Do not worry, m’lady. I think he will recover in time.”

“That is a relief to hear,” Aeranys replied, letting out an inaudible sigh. That was going to have to be enough for her, to know that he was not in mortal danger.

It was still something that sat heavy in her gut, the knowledge that she would likely have to leave him behind. Not only had he yet to recover, she did not have an inkling of where he was--and neither could she ask without drawing suspicion to her potential escape. Her one source of comfort was the fact that the moment she disappeared, Ser Laenor’s likelihood of surviving his imprisonment improved vastly. Without her, he would be the only hostage of importance they would have left, the sole tool they could leverage against the crown and the Velaryons. As long as she was here, they could casually chop off any limbs they cared to, even kill him should they believe such a threat was necessary. And yet, it still weighed on her. What if they killed him anyway? What if they already had another important hostage? What if--

“M’lady!” she heard Serra gasp, jolting her out of her spiraling doubts. Her brown eyes were round with horror, and as the princess realized what that gaze was directed towards, her own eyes instantly filled with a deeper kind of dread. A red stain was slowly crawling outwards on her sleeve, warm and stinking of iron. Before she could muster some sort of far fetched excuse, the kitchen maid was already yanking the cloth of her sleeve up and away to reveal the linen strips soaked through with blood. “M’lady, you’re hurt!” she squeaked, her expression both frantic and bewildered. “How--who?” she babbled in confusion before something terrible seemed to dawn on her. Her face drained of color, her voice dropping to a quavering whisper as her breathing grew frenetic. “Did--did he--?”

“No--Serra, no,” Aeranys grasped at her shoulders, looking her firmly in the eye. “He didn’t hurt me. No one hurt me.”

“Then how…” Serra started, but as her eyes went from the bloody arm to the princess’ grim expression, the pieces seemed to fall into place. “M’lady...you…?”

“I’m sorry, but I can’t stay here any longer, Serra,” she spoke before the maid could, her voice low and grave. “I can’t.” She took a breath, trying to explain. She had no intention of making up some noble and lofty lie about how she cared only for the realm to be at peace. Of course, she didn’t want any more horrors. She was sick of the senseless deaths, the madness that had consumed her father, but in this brutal game, she knew her entire family’s fate was tied to him. The two things she wanted--for the tragedies to stop and for her family to safe--were utterly incompatible, it seemed. “I know it might sound selfish and stupid, but I don’t want to lose my family, and I don’t want anyone to lose their families either,” she admitted, her chest constricting with emotion. “I have little love for my father, Serra. I know his tyranny better than most. And I admit, I don’t know what my brother is thinking, nor do I have an excuse, but--but I’d rather die than have my mother surrender her life for mine,” she whispered fiercely. All this time, she hadn’t been able to protect her mother in any real way. Her actions, her choices--they’d never something that could tear kingdoms apart and decide the reign of monarchs, unlike those of her father or eldest brother. This time, however, the fate of her family lay heavy on her shoulders, the weak, sputtering flame of hope. She had to fight to keep it alive, didn’t she? “I don’t know what I can do, and I don’t know if I can change anything--but if I don’t even try, how could I ever live with myself?” she swallowed hard, desperation flashing in her lilac eyes. 

Serra seemed to be at an utter loss for words, still staring back at her with those sad brown eyes. “M’lady…” was all she could manage, and the princess realized she was still clutching the girl’s shoulders with both hands. She let go, drawing back into herself and taking a deep breath before looking up again, this time considerably calmer.

“I won’t begrudge you if you tell the steward,” she told her, her voice gentle once more. Serra seemed startled at those words, but the princess pressed on nonetheless. “If you could find it in your heart to keep my secret a little longer, pretend you didn’t see this, I would be forever in your debt. But I also know there are times when we must play our roles, even if when we don’t wish it. I understand it well.” A distant, forlorn smile flickered across her lips. “The choice is yours, Serra.”

For what felt like ages, there was only silence. Then the girl’s downturned gaze flicked up to hers cautiously, her words hesitant once more. “What if...I don’t want to do either?” she murmured, to which Aeranys blinked in confusion. “What if...what if I want to help you?”

“Help me?” the young woman echoed, as if she was doubting her own hearing. “Serra, if you get involved--if we’re caught--”

“I want to help you,” she repeated herself, firmly this time. “Really, I do. No one’s taken me and my silly dreams so seriously like you have, m’lady, and none of the highborn lords or ladies of Estermount have ever been as good to me as you have,” Serra’s tone held a tinge of longing, her large eyes now filled with the steady, unshakable strength of the earth below. “So...please, let me be the one who does something for you this time.”

“Thank you,” Aeranys whispered, taking her rough hand in hers. Her eloquent and flowery words had left her, and all that she could utter were those simple words, over and over again. “Thank you so much, Serra. I can’t say anything more. Just...thank you.”

The serving girl squeezed her hand back, that shy smile of hers sneaking in to play on her lips. “Does this mean we get to make a grand plan now?” she asked, almost sounding like a child at play.

“Yes,” the princess answered, squaring her shoulders. Her pale eyes gleamed in the morning light, sharp and focused as a blade. “Now we plan.”


*********



Everything else she could do was done. This was the last thing. Her fingers wrapped and unwrapped around the thin ivory handle of her quill knife.

It’ll grow back, she reminded herself as she grasped a handful of her pale hair--the hair her mother had brushed herself that last night, her slender fingers stroking her head lovingly, the same hair that Daeron, in a last moment of clarity, had touched and told her not to weep any longer, the hair Rhaegar had always liked to toy absentmindedly with while he was reading, pensively wrapping a finger around a stray lock as the three of them lay sprawled on Daeron’s bed. It wasn’t as if it would hurt, unlike the many times she’d bled herself over the two days in order to keep up the pretense, and it wasn’t as if all those memories would disappear from her if she cut her hair--so why was she still hesitating?

Was it because something deep within her felt as if it was her last remaining physical proof of their presence, their touch?

It was a terrifying thought, one she immediately thrust away from herself. Gritting her teeth, she tightened her grip on her hair as she forced the knife through it, roughly sawing and hacking at the locks as best as she could. When it was over she touched the jagged edges of her remaining hair, the absence of the familiar weight obvious to her; she couldn’t even remember a time when her hair had been this short. Numbly, she looked down to the hair in her lap. She couldn’t tell what she was feeling, but whatever it was, she knew it could come later. Now was not the time. Arranging the locks together to make a convincing mane of hair once more, she took one of the several linen strips she had cut from her sheets to bind it up. Serra would be here any minute--

Just as she thought it, footsteps approached. She ducked underneath the covers, pulling the blankets over herself as the door opened and closed. “M’lady?” came her hushed voice, and Aeranys immediately slipped out of bed, a mixture of relief and determination on her face. Serra was there, fresh sheets in her arms, and for a moment they both stared at each other mutely, the oppressive weight of what they were about to do keeping them from speaking.

“Are you sure about this?” she finally asked, giving the maid one last chance to disentangle herself from this plan. Serra had much to lose if it came to light that she had helped the princess try to escape--likely her life. The girl, however, showed no such reluctance in her eyes as she nodded back. With that, the two young women began to disrobe, hurrying into each other’s clothes instead to turn princess into maid and maid into princess.

“The staircase on the right,” Aeranys recited softly as she stepped into the coarse dress, her voice barely audible. She took the apron Serra held out to her and tied it around her waist, the kitchen knife tucked into its pocket bumping against her knee in a reassuring fashion. Her fingers briefly touched the wooden handle of the knife before she slipped in the ivory case and cyvasse piece next to it, making sure nothing would fall out. “Then the middle hall, until I see the kitchen. The small door on the side.”

“A left, all the way down,” Serra prompted as she handed the princess an oiled leather pouch, which she took almost absentmindedly, still muttering the directions.

“Then the second door from the left,” Aeranys continued, stooping in front of the dead fireplace to scrape soot into the small bag. When she was satisfied, she bound up the pouch and turned her attention to her short silver hair, working the black powder into locks to obscure their original hue. “The cart on the right, full of hay,” her gaze flicked to Serra, nonverbally seeking confirmation.

“Good,” the maid breathed, tying her kerchief tightly around the princess’s head. She stepped back to check her handiwork, her eyes roving over the sight of a king’s daughter in the garb of a lowly kitchen girl.

“Leave the marketplace and head towards the square to Old Mar’s Tavern,” she recited back, “On the south edge of town--on the same alley as the baker.”

“Yes,” the dark-haired girl said, a note of finality in her voice. Wordlessly, Serra took a small pendant from her neck and placed it around the princess’, her fingers lingering on the carved wooden flower for a moment. “My father will be there.”

Aeranys nodded, holding her gaze. If all went well, she would be on a boat before it was discovered that she was missing. “I won’t forget this, Serra,” she reached out to clasp her hand in hers. “When you’re freed...there’s a hole in the mattress. What’s inside belonged to my mother, but I want you to sell it. It’s hardly thanks, but hopefully it’ll help you and your family a little.” The maid began to stutter out a protest, but she shook her head. “I want you to have it,” she told her firmly. Her mother’s bracelet wasn’t something she’d typically part with, but it was all she had left of value to give Serra, who she thought deserved even more for her bravery. “Besides, we don’t have time to argue.” If they tarried any longer, it would surely seem suspicious; the two young women rushed to pull off the bloodied linens off the bed and replaced them with clean ones.

Knowing what there was left to do, Serra sat on the mattress and held out her arms readily, not an ounce of reluctance in her movements. “I’m sorry, but it’s going to have to be tight if they’re not to suspect you,” the princess explained apologetically as she began to bind her wrists with the torn strips of the bedsheet.

“Yes, I know,” Serra assured her, looking up with trust written in her large dark eyes. She didn’t utter a squeak as she had both her hands and ankles bound, meek as a lamb to the slaughter. “May the gods be with you, m’lady, and protect you on your journey,” she murmured when it was time to gag her.

“May they be with you, as well,” the princess mustered, trying to swallow the worry that was beginning to rear within her. The deed was done quickly, stuffing her mouth with a wad of cloth, and Aeranys drew up the covers over her frail form. The finishing touch was to lay the long coil of hair she had cut off upon the pillow, splaying it so that they would be the only thing visible from the mass of blankets. “Are you alright?” Aeranys asked one last time, to which she received a silent nod. “Thank you, Serra, ” she whispered her farewell, then turned to gather up the sheets in her arms, making sure to leave the mess of blood on top.

She faced the door, slouching over to mimic the maid’s timid posture as best as she could. This was it, the moment before she jumped off the ledge, stepped into the unknown. She glanced back one more time at the prone figure on the bed with silver spilling out over the blankets. Then with one last inhale and a silent prayer, she opened the door and strode out to meet her fate.
Title: Re: The Golden Sun and the Silver Moon [m]
Post by: Reigning King on May 29, 2019, 03:12:03 PM
“May I present, the Prince of Dorne, Doran Nymeros Martell.” The steward stood at the door of his Lord’s council hall.  He donned the red and gold colours of his liege House, blond hair peeking out from beneath his feathered page cap. Stepping aside, he allowed the Lord whom he had announced to stagger his way into the hall, weight resting heavily upon the cane beneath his hand. 

Doran Martell did not address his host, nor did he even spare a glance in his direction.  Instead he limped towards the luxuriously plush high backed chair that sat in wait for him.  Following the example set forth by his liege, Aero Hotah strode forward and assisted the Dornish Prince into his seat, ignoring the other gentlemen who lingered about, waiting on bated breath for the formality that was never to come.  For all his youth, only thirty and five years to his name, he wheezed his way to sitting as though he were already well within the winters of life. He let the relief wash over him visibly as he reclined into the cushions, freed at last from the pain in his knotted knees growing more swollen and ache-ridden with each passing day of travel. 

“So…” His host began from the head of the council table.  He stood with his shoulders straight, hands clasped behind his back in the way that called to mind images of a dutiful soldier.  The expensive doublet with which he had dressed himself was made of fine reds, a golden lion embroidered upon the breast. Blonde side whiskers framed a sharp jaw which matched the piercing green eyes that regarded him unforgivingly from beneath a stern brow.  He had shaved his head bald in the years since Doran had seen him last. Still, even without the golden locks of his namesake, he was unmistakable as the infamous Lord Tywin Lannister.

“This is the champion Aerys has chosen?” He observed rhetorically. “The Knight deployed to take my King upon this cyvasse board.” The words were offered as insult, his tone dripping in condescension. 

“Actually,” Doran returned.  “I consider myself to be more of a rook.” His tone was light and comfortable in spite of the pain that visibly weighed upon his fragile body.  “A tower, proud and true, moving in straight, clean lines…”

“Predictable.” Lord Tywin finished for him. 

“As you say.” Doran replied, a pleasant smile posed on his face.  Leaning back into his chair he made himself comfortable while the Lord before him remained standing, stiff and formal in spite of the casualness of his unexpected guest. 

“Tell me, is it customary in Dorne to forego the formalities owed in respect to a Lord such as myself?” He asked bitingly, surrendering to the passive atmosphere this Dornish dignitary had cultivated of his own accord, quietly shifting the delicate balance of their verbal duel.  Moving towards the head of the table, he lowered himself into the seat across from Doran Martell with all the control and dignity that the Dornishman had failed to exhibit himself.

“I don’t believe it’s customary anywhere in Westeros to bow to a traitor of the crown.” The Lord of House Lannister started at the words, turning his sharp eyes to the Dornishman who dared to utter them.  His snarling anger however, was not met in challenge but instead with a smile as warm as the Dornish sun. Regaining his composure and caging his frustrations, Tywin Lannister sought to rebalance the scales of conversation in his favour.

“I have pledged no allegiance to the Baratheon brat or his silly rebellion…” Lord Tywin started, but now it was Prince Doran’s turn to do the interrupting.

“Nor to the crown, from what I understand.”

“How can I be a traitor to the crown when my own daughter is fated to be its next Queen?” Lord Tywin returned. 

“Is she?” Doran asked in a careful voice, the words measured and coated in nuance.  While the warden of the West bit down against the lion’s roar attempting to crawl up his throat, the Prince of Dorne continued, filling the silence.  “You know, I never pegged you as the sort to feign ignorance, my Lord.” He mused in the same light tone. “Shall I illuminate you?”

“You presume to have knowledge to which I am not privy.” The rage had been snuffed out.  A proud lion now sat in the place of a roaring one, arrogance sheathing his feline fangs behind a smooth expression of haughty indifference.  “I know about the Stark girl and the Prince. I know of his intentions, his desires to usurp his father and cast aside my daughter…” He reached for his goblet and at once a wine bearer was at his side, filling his glass.  Even though Doran did not reach for his own, another young man stepped forward and filled his as well, on cue. “I know that Aerys has provided your son with a bride, in exchange for your continued loyalty to the crown and that you have one of the largest armies in Westeros, likely enough gold to buy another in equal measure for the affair…” Pausing, he leaned forward on the smooth wooden surface of the table, his goblet held between two ruby encrusted fingers, fixing Doran Martell with his cat-like, emerald eyes. 

“I hear you are a careful man, Prince Doran.” Lord Tywin continued, curling his fingers around the stem of his goblet.  “A careful man weighs his options in kind, and only shakes the hand of the man with whom he strikes an accord after the goods have changed hands.” As the Lord of Casterly Rock attempted to map the unchanging expression beneath the Dornishman’s olive hued complexion, Doran watched on in contented amusement.  The cripple’s odd gentility gave nothing away and it visibly frustrated and discomforted the Lord who attempted to negotiate with the lame and limp but still venomous serpent before him.

“I know that Princess Aeranys Targaryen has been kidnapped and held for ransom by the Rebels, kept beneath the banners of House Estermont at Greenstone.” Green eyes flicked about the face across the table from him, searching for something beyond the wince brought on by an ache in the knees which turned his subject’s attention away from him altogether.  “And now, with nothing to gain from aligning yourself with either side you’ve come to find an ally in a man of a similar circumstance.”

Prince Doran took his time to brace his knee and let the wave of pain pass before he righted himself in his seat and looked to Lord Tywin.  To him, the Prince of Dorne must have appeared as naught but a frail, careful cripple. Good. Once more turning back to the Lord before him and giving him a humble, measured smile he replied, “No.”

“Then why are you here, Prince Doran?” Lord Tywin returned, the roar having once more returned to his voice.  “What is it that you want?”

“For myself?” Doran inquired rhetorically before shrugging and shaking his head answering, “nothing, I have everything I could ever want.”  Dark brown eyes narrowed on Lord Tywin Lannister of Casterly Rock, twisted elbows extending forward to lean across the wooden council table.  The finish was pristine, the carving expert and artisanal. Quaint. Doran Martell far preferred the council table in the tower of the Sun at the Old Palace, carved from white marble and encrusted in jewelled gold.  “For my children however, I will accept nothing less than the entire world and everything in it.”

“You’ll have to be more specific.” Lord Tywin snarled dryly. 

Prince Doran did not answer the Lord before him, but instead reached into his robes and produced a small scroll.  Already, the impossibility of the tiny Dornish host this crippled Prince had brought with him retrieving a raven without Lannister forces intercepting the message had Lord Tywin’s bushy blonde eyebrows raised in curiosity.  Taking the message from his liege’s extended hand, the brute Aero Hotah carried it across the council table and placed the parchment before the Lannister Lord himself. Lord Tywin’s eyes watched the axe strapped to the guard’s back as he returned to his Prince’s side.  Uncurling the message, eyes roved over the first few lines before returning to the mysterious man across the table from him.

“So, the Princess will be rescued… that still does not answer my question.” Lord Tywin pressed impatiently.   

“Keep reading.” Prince Doran urged. 

Pursing his lips, Lord Tywin returned to the letter before him.  Reading and then reading it over again he finally grew tired of whatever game the Prince of Dorne was playing at.  Rising onto his feet and tossing the scroll across the table he leaned his weight upon his proudly decorated claws, the roar returning once more to his voice.  “Come to plain words.” He said with the finality of a man without any patience left to spare. “What do you want?”

“Prince Rhaegar is finished with your daughter and King Aerys uses your son like a servant boy at best.” Doran Martell said haltingly, in a voice as gentle as ever yet somehow still striking, a venomous bite without any of the pain -- the deadliest kind of poison.  “No matter which way this war ends, your children are sure to be the first in a long line of wartime casualties, you know what they say about loose ends after all.” The Prince of Dorne paused, seeing everything in the shining emeralds glaring back at him that the composed facade he faced could not hide.  “Before the month is out, ten thousand Dornishmen will be welcomed through the gates of King’s Landing. They could save your daughter, protect your grandson, secure your son, or…”

“Or they could stand by and watch as Aerys burns my legacy alive.” Lord Tywin finished for him.  There was only calmness showing through his expression, but his eyes told the story of quiet calculation and horrifying malice.  His anger did not belong to Prince Doran Martell however, but to another.

“As you say.” Doran replied knowingly, gently.  “You know his Majesty better than I.” A truth which only further solidified his own position in their negotiations.  Lord Tywin Lannister took a long drink from his goblet, pulling his eyes from his guest he watched the wood of his table as he seated himself once more.  Extending a strong arm out, a wine bearer filled his glass again with all the efficiency and terror one could expect from a boy serving beneath such a man as the famed Lord Tywin.  Yet for all that infamy and fear, he had been backed into a corner, checked by a rook moving in a predictably straight line towards him. Doran Martell was careful and therefore his actions were foreseeable.  Such a move however, to take such immediate and overwhelming control over the Capital and seat of utmost power, was a bold one. Too bold for a careful, crippled snake, but this snake in particular was known to be rather venomous as it had one deadly Golden Fang.

“A rather calculated move, that.” Lord Tywin mused, gesturing to the scroll he had tossed before Prince Doran as he sipped from his goblet.  The Dornishman’s already smiling lips twitched more broadly as he spoke, that contented amusement returning to his serene features. He could tell that the Lord before him was stalling, fishing, searching… Even if it were in vain.  “I had heard your boy was a rather bloodthirsty creature.” Even at the mention of his son, nothing changed in the Prince’s expression. “The word monster has been thrown around…”

“As you say.” Doran agreed passively, bringing his hands together and interlocking his fingers in spite of the anguish it must have brought him to do so for the swelling in his knuckles.  “But whatever he is, it is different from you and I, or anyone else for that matter. Which makes my boy special.” He continued. Now it was Lord Tywin’s turn to recline in his chair, sipping on his wine with an arrogant amusement that set the warning rattle within Prince Doran’s dark eyes jolting.  “Every father loves his children, but do you know what makes us different, my Lord?” The Warden of the West only raised his eyebrows in silent inquiry. “You strive to be a great man, but when I first looked into my son’s eyes I knew that I was not born to be such or any kind of hero. My destiny was to raise one.” Prince Doran continued, at last reaching for the goblet that had previously sat full and untouched before him.  “You will never beat my son on a battlefield or best him in a political court. You will never outmatch him or outwit him. Do you know why?” He did not bother waiting for a reply this time. “Because he is unpredictable.” The arrogance fell away from Lord Tywin’s face, features gone slack at the abruptness of the words.

“What do you want?” Lord Tywin Lannister asked for the final time. 

“For my son?  The world and all the worlds beyond it.  But we can start with something a little smaller…” Now it was Prince Doran who leaned back into the high back cushioned seat.  He paused, bringing the chalice to his lips and sipping gingerly at the wine. Pisswater compared to Dornish reds but it would do -- a drink to victory was often predicated on the timing of the thing after all.  The sweetest part of it was not the wine anyhow, but rather the fact of it painted all over Lord Tywin Lannister’s face. Checkmate.

“King Aerys gave my son a dragon to ride.  What do you have to offer, my Lord?”


(https://media.giphy.com/media/McrgjXUneCEzJEEg57/giphy.gif)
(https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/7lWl1TsyxynR4M33OIkexTbR0UCnA5haZhmT0AgHG0wnBAOtRLwqYJK8I0Zo9iaF4HTmstA3AnPIUzJ8PPa16T0qobrEfwxZVlCen7UKICjyOMhIEEijte0u_bvzKrlAvBxSpzJc)
Title: Re: The Golden Sun and the Silver Moon [m]
Post by: Reigning King on May 29, 2019, 03:12:52 PM
Continued…

(https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/7lWl1TsyxynR4M33OIkexTbR0UCnA5haZhmT0AgHG0wnBAOtRLwqYJK8I0Zo9iaF4HTmstA3AnPIUzJ8PPa16T0qobrEfwxZVlCen7UKICjyOMhIEEijte0u_bvzKrlAvBxSpzJc)



“That,” Mors began in a measured tone.  “Is not Princess Aeranys.”

The Highborn Dornishman stood at the foot of the bed which filled the small room in a quiet, high tower of the manse.  One handed rested upon the jeweled hilt of his scimitar, sheathed at his hip, while the other twirled locks of glistening silver hair between his blood-stained fingers.  The hair had been spread upon the feather pillow, somehow liberated from its previous owner and strewn about the mousy serving girl who lay in her place. She was bound at the wrists and ankles, staring up at the men before her with terror in her tearful eyes.  The gag that had been shoved haphazardly into her mouth kept her from crying out, but when her gaze fell upon the young man Ser Devran hauled into the cozy room, she struggled against the cloth. Mors watched the look exchanged between the youths before turning his full attention to his hostage.  He said nothing, but instead raised his eyebrows expectantly.

“She was here…” He stammered helplessly.

“And where is she now?” Mors inquired calmly. 

“I don’t know.”

“Have you any idea where she might have gone?”

“I don’t know.”

“Are they any secret ports or safe-houses on this island?”

“I don’t know.”

“And who is that?” He continued, maintaining his patience, gesturing to the girl who lay tied in place to the four posts of the bed frame.

“I don’t know.” The boy lied. 

Mors Nymeros Martell stepped forward then, encroaching on the young man’s space in spite of his inability to escape the advance.  Ser Devran held him in a cruel grip by the underside of his bicep and as his liege leaned in close to the hostage, tsking at him, the Knight took quiet pleasure in the fear his Prince was able to instill with only a glance.  “I would advise against lying to me.” Mors warned in that same calm tone. “Who is that?” He asked again, gesturing once more to the girl behind him.

“I don’t know.” The boy repeated, brave even as his fleeting gaze betrayed him.  “I swear it by every God there is to swear upon…” He was crying now, choking against the sobs that rolled through his body, rendering him weak at the knees.  “I don’t know anything.”

“So it would seem.” Mors returned coolly.  “Well, then it would appear I have no further use for you…” He continued casually as he unsheathed his scimitar.

“No… Please…” The boy begged between gasps, tears streaming down his face.  His sobs were silenced by the blade that cut through his flesh and slipped between his ribs, twisting against the meaty organs protected within.  Blood sputtered from his mouth as his gaze grew distant. The light left his eyes as they were looking to the girl whose identity he had died to protect, a futile venture.  It was that girl which Mors turned to next, satisfaction painted smoothly over his boyish, blood-spattered features.

She no longer struggled against her restraints or bit down against the gag in her mouth.  Instead the girl lay still, watching Mors with careful eyes, wide with horror. When he reached out to remove the cloth from her jaw, she flinched away from his touch.  While he half-expected her to cry or scream, she only licked her dry lips and tested her sore jaw. When Mors asked her the quiet question of, “who are you?” her attention snapped back to the murderer who addressed her. 

“My name is Serra.” She answered carefully, eyes turning back and forth from the body that lay limp upon the stone floor and the man who had made it so. 

A mild disappointment floated across Prince Mors’ calm expression as he sat himself upon the edge of the bed, hovering over the girl he prodded with more gentility than his previous impromptu informant.  “And how did you come to be in your current predicament, Serra?” He asked her.

“The Princess…” She hesitated for a moment, considering her words before responding.  “She overpowered me and tied me up…”

“Did she?” A light broke across his olive complexion at her words, eyes beaming with a piqued interest that he permitted to reach his subtle features.  “Do you hear that, Devran?” He asked the Knight who hovered over his shoulder, awaiting command. “I came all this way to rescue my bride, and she’s already escaped of her own accord…” His friend pursed his lips and nodded approvingly as Mors turned back to the girl playing audience to their interaction.  “How long ago did this happen?”

The mousy serving girl before him only stared for a time before responding with her own question instead.  “You’re him, aren’t you?” She asked, the fear never leaving her steady gaze. “Prince Mors of Dorne, the Golden Fang…”

“I don’t particularly care for that name, actually.” Prince Mors of Dorne returned passively, his smile falling away, replaced by his previous serene expression.  “Now about my bride…” He allowed his voice to trail off encouragingly.

“Some hours past.” She answered obediently. 

“Before our attack?” The girl replied to his inquiry with a nod.  “And where has she gone?” He pressed. Once more he was met with hesitation. 

“I don’t --” She started. 

“Now, now…” Mors interrupted.  “We both know I don’t like that answer.”

Serra’s eyes flicked to the body bleeding out upon the floor before looking back up to meet the yellow gaze that bore into her.  “There are many places she could hide.”

“Better.” The Golden Fang encouraged, raising his scimitar to resting upon his lap, blood still dripping from the glistening steel. 

“If she were to make it past the guards of the manse, there would be many places within the village where --” She meant to go on, but the curious Dornishman before her was interrupting her again.

“There is no village.” He told her dryly.  “Not anymore.” The words stole her breath for a moment, but she recovered at the Dornish Prince’s gentle prodding.  “Anything else?” He asked her, hand coming to rest upon the hilt of the blade in his lap. The reminder of its presence loosened her lips.

“She’s wearing my dress…” The girl offered.

“And?” He prompted.

“And she’s cut her hair…”

“Thank you, Serra.” Prince Mors answered as he rose to standing, his scimitar now held fast.  “You’ve been very useful.” As his sword hand lifted into the air, the serving girl closed her eyes in anticipation for the blow which never came.  Instead the tethers that bound her wrists and ankles fell away and her limbs tumbled limply onto the hay bed upon which she was sprawled. “Up now.”  He said as he sheathed his blade. While the words were directed to the girl, it was Ser Devran who stepped forward at their utterance. “Let’s see if anyone else can prove as useful.”

Ser Devran Toyne, without a hint of remorse in his face, laced his fingers through the serving girl’s messy locks and wretched her to her feet by the roots of her hair.  As Mors started towards the doorway with his party and their new hostage in tow, it was his Knight’s quiet exclamation which gave him pause. “What’s this?” He asked the girl, yanking something shiny and sparkling from her desperate grip, splintering her nails as she cried out in protest.  She had reached for something in the mattress, which the Knight had fished out himself, holding the bangle up to the light and inspecting the quality. His liege extended his hand and at the Prince’s silent behest, Ser Devran handed him the piece of jewelry to study for himself.

“Where did you get this, Serra?” The eldest Martell child asked, curiosity twisting his youthful features into something less becoming.  The girl didn’t answer but instead looked on at the Dornishman who had claimed her prize, anger bubbling in the place of fear. “Serra?” Prince Mors pressed in a voice that made a mockery of concerned condescension. 

“I found it.” She lied. 

“Since you’ve been so helpful, I’ll let that one slide.” Mors replied casually, dropping the trinket into his own pocket.  “Don’t lie to me again.” Those were his final words to the serving girl before she was dragged out after him into the orange glow of a world on fire. 

Prince Mors Nymeros Martell, the betrothed of the sweet and gentle young woman who had earned a place of affection within the young serving girl’s heart, was everything the rumours had ever led Serra to believe about him.  The Golden Fang sat upon an emptied barrel that had once served as a cask of wine before his soldiers had found it and shared in amongst themselves. The Dornish Prince did not indulge, drunk instead off different reds. Knelt beside him, unable to help the tremble that had crawled beneath her skin and settled into her bones, Serra watched the soldiers drag another dead body into the growing pile while their liege wiped blood from his axe.  Her eyes moved from the fresh corpses to their executioner, to the silver lock of hair he kept around his fingers, now stained copper and black like his hands, his clothes, his soul. When she looked to his face, she was startled to find him looking back. Serra might have been able to save that poor individual, or the ones who had come before him, but she would be doing so at the expense of Princess Aeranys. If she told him where the Targaryen Princess was headed they would certainly find her, or worse -- she would lead this merciless monster straight to her father’s own doorstep. 

The invading forces has burned down the village and port-towns, covering the expanse of Greenstone and rooting every Stormborn native from their home.  Those who surrendered were amassed in the courtyard of the manse, divided into two groups. The first group was that of cripples, women and children; the helpless.  The second group was that of surrendering able men. There were none remaining from the third group, those who took up arms in defense of their land, and so it was with the second that Mors began his inquisition.  He would entertain informative narratives and send soldiers searching at the mention of particularly noteworthy locales. Each time that the noble men of High Hermitage, donning the black and silver of the cadet branch to the Lords of House Dayne, returned empty-handed the interrogation would end the same.  Prince Mors of Dorne loved swinging his axe into something beyond a sparring stand, something that could finally bleed. There had been six all together now and he had enjoyed every single one. The girl beside him, on the other hand, had retreated further and further into the paralysis of her terror with each merciless killing.

“You’re not being very helpful, Serra.” Prince Mors reminded her. 

“It doesn’t make any difference.” The serving girl replied, tears streaming from her face and making her throat hoarse.  “You’re going to kill everyone, aren’t you?” She wasn’t really asking a question, but the Dornish Prince answered for her anyway. 

“That’s the plan.” He told her, smiling that horrible smile.  Rising from his seat, he beckoned forth the seventh man, who was shoved toward his doom by the soldiers who surrounded him.  Thinking himself more clever than the rest, he made a sudden dash, breaking through the line of Dornishmen and pushing past the crowd.  The gathering lambs to slaughter did not part for his sake however, but rather the axe which came hurling through the air, landing directly into the runner’s back.  Leisurely he strode over to the corpse, flanked by his Knights who moved to collect the body after Prince Mors jerked his axe from its spine.

“Enough!” Someone called from the crowd, the voice strong but distinctly female.  “I know where the Princess is.” She insisted, stepping forward from the other women herded into a corner of the courtyard.  “I can take you there!” Urging surrounding soldiers to follow her, she started off towards the gates.

“Wonderful.” The Prince praised in an even tone as he cleaned the blood from the blade of his axe.  Gesturing to his fellow soldiers who fell into line behind him, he followed after the common woman for whom seven bodies was finally enough.  The young thing was headed towards the gated entry, leading Mors and his party from the courtyard. “I’m done with her.” He said casually over his shoulder, a finger coming to point at the serving girl still knelt in the dirt, staring off at nothing.  With a nod, the nearest soldier stepped forward and dragged his blade across her neck, a stream of reds pouring forth. Turning back to the new informant who had taken her place, he watched something flash across her visage before she regained her composure and hurried her pace.  Narrowing his eyes, Prince Mors Martell followed after her, entertaining the ruse for a time before breaking the silence of the night, illuminated by the glow of the island ablaze.

“Stop.” The Dornishman commanded.  Devran stepped forward to seize the woman who led them, but Mors shooed his hands away.  Placing his own gentle touch upon her shoulders, he turned her so that she faced him, snatching the cover from her hair.  Taking a moment, yellow eyes peered into her face, but he recognized her at once. The very first time he had ever felt his cold, quiet heart leap within his chest, it had been when his golden gaze had met her violet one.  Removing his hands from her person and taking a respectful step back, Prince Mors Martell lowered himself into a deep bow.

“Princess Aeranys.” He greeted sweetly.  “It is good to see you again.”
Title: Re: The Golden Sun and the Silver Moon [m]
Post by: asterin on May 29, 2019, 03:21:20 PM
Don’t look up. Keep walking. Don’t look up. Her chest tight and her breath stuck in her throat, the disguised princess forced herself numbly forward, forward, forward. Each time a guard’s gaze swept over her she’d feel as if her heart would stop in her chest, but it seemed her gambit had worked--the crimson mess staining the sheets was enough to have the men turn their gazes away. Keeping her head down, she made her way through the halls at the scurrying pace Serra usually moved in, chanting the directions in her head. The staircase on the right, she began the chant in her mind, trying to focus on the directions that would lead her to freedom. Take the middle hall, down to the kitchen. Go through the door on the side…

Twice she almost made the wrong turn, unfamiliar with the actual layout of the manse, and twice she thought fear would cause her to break into a senseless run under a particularly scrutinizing eye, but nothing managed to stop her--that is, until she found herself passing a hallway with a certain set of doors. Unlike most other places, two guards stood smartly at each side of the entrance. Despite herself, despite the dread stalking her ever so closely, she found herself give pause, for she knew where those double doors led to.

The cellar.

“The cellar?” she echoed. The two women sat closely together, their heads bowed forward by the fire as they spoke in hushed tones, bringing to life the plot that would set the royal hostage free.

“Yes, m’lady,” Serra nodded, her dark eyes watching cautiously as the princess took in the information. “There is no proper dungeon in this manse, and so he was placed there.”

“Is there only one way in and out?” the pale-haired girl asked, her thoughts on her maimed knight even though she had previously decided that she would have to leave him behind. Now that she had help from Serra, maybe, just maybe...

“No,” the maid answered, though hesitantly. “There is a grate at the far end that leads to a corner of the courtyard…” She swallowed, nervous worry taking over her features. “But you cannot, m’lady. There are always two guards posted at the entrance down to the cellar. Think of the risk.”

For a drawn-out moment there was only silence, but it was finally broken when Aeranys released a defeated sigh. “Yes, of course. I understand…”


And she truly did--she understood the position she was in, the position they all were in. It was better for her to escape successfully than to attempt something brash and get caught, putting them all in danger. As cruel and calculating it might have seemed, she knew that she was the piece she had to protect in this game. Ser Laenor, skilled knight and valued member of House Velaryon as he was, was not the bargaining chip that she was. If this was cyvasse, she knew she would have sacrificed such a piece without a second thought--replaceable, disposable. Yet as she stood there, she could not help but grasp desperately for something, something she could do. Cause a distraction somehow, start a fire…?

Think of the risk. Think of your duty, think of your mother…

Her grip on the bloody sheets tightened as she forced herself to resume her walk, keeping her eyes down. She folded her feelings away, steeled herself to what had to be done. She was almost to the stables, almost to her way out of this prison--how could she jeopardize everything? No, she couldn’t indulge in such foolishness.

Still, even as she reached the stables, she could hardly feel victorious. After she shoved the stained bundle of cloth underneath the straw of an empty stall, she found her way to the cart that Serra had told her about. Moving aside empty crates and satchels, she crawled into the narrow space she had cleared for herself and finally blew out a shuddering breath. Now, she could only wait. Serra had promised that the cart would leave for town before the gates closed for the night, which meant her wait would not be much longer. In the uneasy hush, the stowaway princess dug out the lone cyvasse piece from the pockets of the borrowed apron. She turned the familiar king piece over and over in her fingers, her mind going to the journey she would have ahead of her even if she made it safely off of Greenstone. It was a long way to Dorne, she knew, with many a thing that could happen on the road--and yet, she did not dare wonder if she would be able to make it there. She had to, no matter the cost.

How much time had passed? Aeranys shifted in her hiding place, growing more and more anxious. Surely, it was about time for someone to come to the stables. Had something happened? Had their plot been figured out?

Suddenly, she heard the sound of several people rushing by. The doors of the stables were thrust open as men entered, steps hurried and voices taut with tension. “Blasted raider scum,” one spat to his comrade as they stomped about, tools and items clattering to the ground as they snatched up one thing or another.

“Aye, and what bloody ill timing,” the other answered grimly. “We don’t have our full force, we’re going to need every man we’ve got.”

Curled up tight between crates, the princess smothered her breaths as she eavesdropped on the two guards cursing their luck. Raiders?  Her heart began to race in her chest as she realized with a burst of panic that there was no way this cart would be driven out to town tonight, not when there were raiders about. Was this it? Had her plans been dashed? No, there had to be some way, there had to be.

The guards were busy dealing with the raiders, which meant they were distracted. They would be trying to keep people out of the manse, preoccupied with the threat on their doorstep, away from their typical stations--

Her train of thought came to a sudden stop, her eyes lighting up with a new realization.


*************


“Ser Laenor?”

He kept hearing her voice. Regardless of whether he was sleeping or awake, he kept hearing her voice--when it was just the maid with the sad eyes, or even when no one was there. He kept hearing his failures coming back to haunt him--chief among them, his lady liege. He blinked. In the distance he could see a light. So it was the maid, then. Strange, had she not just been here a short time ago? Then again, he was having a difficult time telling how fast or slow time was passing--in trickles or waves. “Ser Laenor?” her voice came again, the flame wandering to the opposite side of the gloom.

“Princess?” the word came out jumbled, weak and unsure. This was usually when he realized that his mind was leading him astray, but as the light stopped and grew closer and closer, something within him leapt. “Milady? Princess Aeranys?” he called out, struggling to right himself.

Then all of a sudden someone was at his side, shushing him and raising the light. For a moment he stared, seeing only the tell-tale maid’s outfit, a lock of black hair that had escaped the kerchief--and then he realized whose face was looking down at him with concern in her pale eyes. “Princess,” he mumbled, wondering if this was a dream still. He could not tell, but the words that had been tormenting him tumbled forth from his lips. “Princess, I’ve failed you--my hand--”

“Apologies can come when we are safe,” her voice came, and he frowned against the bright flames.

“What…?” he began, and even to his own ears he sounded quite simple. “Milady, you don’t mean to say--” His question, however, was well enough answered when she produced a kitchen knife from her apron pocket and began to clumsily saw through the ropes that bound him.

“Raiders are attacking,” she explained as best as she could, still awkwardly maneuvering the blade around the ropes. “The guards are distracted--for now.”

“But--but...this is an island, princess,” he spluttered. “How will we stay hidden when it is over? How will we get off of Greenstone?”

“I have a way prepared,” she supplied, only to purse her lips a moment after. “Well, I did…but let’s focus on getting you out of here first.”

With one last sawing motion the binding around his ankles was cut, and the knight nursed his tender flesh, looking up at his lady with dazed disbelief still in his eyes. “Milady, your hair…” he murmured.

Though she knew he was speaking about its cropped length, she pretended she believed him to be commenting about its shade. “It’s only soot,” she deflected, pulling out the pouch of black powder and opening it up. She had meant to save it for the rest of her journey, but it seemed that the knight would benefit from a bit of camouflage as well. Spilling it onto her palm, she spread it through his pale blonde hair as best as she could. “It will have to do,” she breathed, her gaze roving over the young man. “Can you stand, Ser Laenor?”
Title: Re: The Golden Sun and the Silver Moon [m]
Post by: asterin on May 29, 2019, 03:23:36 PM

***************

The grate that led to the courtyard had been her favored way out of the cellar, but it had soon come clear to her that Ser Laenor was not in shape to climb up stacked barrels and crates--especially now that he only had one hand. Their only choice had been to step back into the manse itself, a frightful necessity that they had braved. If the halls had been sparsely populated when Aeranys had slipped from the stables and through the heavy cellar doors, now they were near devoid of anyone, guards or otherwise. It was the epitome of fortune, for she could barely assist the ill knight into a staggering gait.

Now back in the stables, she helped the injured and sick young man into the hiding place within the cart that had once been for her. “Ser Laenor, you must stay hidden here,” she whispered, to which a veritable panic broke over his battered face.

“Princess, you can’t,” he pleaded, catching at her arm in desperation. “It is too dangerous out there. If something must be done, allow me. I swore on my life to protect you, milady. Gods forbid, if something happened…”

“I will not be long,” she assured him steadily; the young woman understood his concern, but he was most certainly not in any condition to be creeping about. Of the two she was better disguised and of better health, more likely to go unnoticed. “Once the raiders are gone, they will realize the both of us are missing--and we must make our escape before then. I need to find a way, or all will be for naught.”

“Milady,” he began again, but she pulled her arm from his weakened grasp and brought herself to her full height.

“This is an order, Ser Laenor,” Aeranys’ voice was quiet, but her eyes bore into his sea-green ones with her intent clear. “You are to remain hidden until my return.”

The haggard young knight looked for a moment as if he was about to continue to argue with her, but then he paused, looking away from her. “As you command, milady,” he managed defeatedly. The princess took a breath, her face softening with sympathy. He had sworn an oath, yes, and it was his duty to protect her with his own life if need be--she understood what a difficult position she was putting him in. But oh, he did not see, did he? She was just as duty-bound as he, oaths carved like prayers into her bones since she was a very young girl.

“Thank you, Ser Laenor,” she whispered gratefully, moving the crates back into place to hide him. “I will return soon, I promise.”

With those words, she crept out of the stables and through the halls once more--but this time, it was not frightened silence and empty corridors she found. It was pure chaos. Panicked people rushed by her, not even sparing her a glance in their hurry. Above the cries and screams, she could hear something loud and booming, near earth-shaking in its rhythm. What could it be? She struggled through the stream of people, finally making her way into the courtyard--just as something splintered through the gates with a terrible sound. She turned towards it, her pale eyes wide. A battering ram, used by raiders?

Then her instincts kicked in to override her thoughts on the oddity, and the young woman rushed behind a stack of barrels. Arrows whistled through the air as the attackers began to stream in through the crevice the siege tool had made, led by the bravest or the most reckless. Huddled down in a crouch, the princess watched in horror as men began to fall left and right, unable to look away. The courtyard was flooded with the bloodthirsty and the dying, and the invaders seemed to be killing without a second thought, felling any in their path. The carnage was almost surreal, and in the midst of it was one terrifying figure wielding an axe, a devastating dervish of bloodshed, and Aeranys watched as if in a trance as he crossed the courtyard with deadly efficiency.

Someone came rushing out to him, begging for mercy, hands raised pleadingly--the steward, Ser Byrran Storm, she realized a moment after. Unluckily for the surrendering man, the so-called raider barely paused before practically cleaving the man’s head in two. Despite how unpleasant the man had been to both her and Serra, Aeranys found little pleasure in his gruesome end, unlike the demon-like warrior, who only appeared to watch with no small amount of amusement. He was smiling, she noted dazedly. He was…

Wait.

Was that?

Curly black ringlets, pretty face. As he turned to grin at a group of nearby people, his eyes glinted near gold in the torchlight. Those eyes, that face--she knew it. She knew him.

Mors Nymeros Martell. Her intended, her betrothed.

In all her years, she didn’t think she’d ever seen him smile. And yet, the sight of his smile, which would have been charming and pleasant in any other circumstance, only seemed to make him appear more monster than man.

“I’m looking for my bride,” she overheard him say, and a chill ran down her spine. His bride--that would be her. He was here to rescue her, to be her savior, and yet--why did she feel nothing but dread at the sight of him? Why did she want nothing more than to run away from him when she should’ve been throwing herself under his banner of protection? All she would have to do was step from her hiding place and announce her presence, and he would take her to Dorne, the very place she’d come so far to get to. He’d wed her, and her family would be saved...

And yet, everything within her was screaming at her to run. But how could she do such a thing? She found herself rooted to the spot, caught between two conflicting needs--and her moment of indecision was all it took for a frightened young man to blurt out what the Martell prince had demanded of him. She’s been kept in the west wing! Indeed, that was where she had been, up until just a few hours ago. But now…

The princess swallowed, finding strength in her limbs at the memory of Serra. She quickly turned to head back into the manse as she heard the boy being directed to lead them there. She’d intercept him along the way and reveal herself to him, explain the situation…

“Kill them.”

“No, stop!” she cried as she turned back, but her words were drowned out as the screams of the servants began. Knowing that there was nothing to be done for those poor souls, the young woman rushed to chase after the two Dornishmen and their hostage, but she was wrenched to a sudden stop when a soldier caught her, a crushing grip on her arm.

“Where d’you think you’re going, wench?” he snarled, dragging her away and thrusting her into a crowd of terrified women and children. Stumbling but not losing her balance, the princess rounded back onto the soldier with urgent determination flashing in her eyes.

“I must speak with Mors Martell,” she demanded, the grave situation giving way to tenacity. “I--”

The blow came quicker and harder than she could’ve anticipated, catching her in the cheek full force and throwing her down headfirst to the bloody cobblestones below. As lights exploded in her vision, swiftly giving way to darkness, she heard the group of women behind her break out into a chorus of screams--each of their voices identical to her mother’s.


***************


It was dark. The sound of sobbing, whispered prayers, the distant sound of the dead and dying. Maegor’s Holdfast, her mind whispered. You’re dreaming. She tried to move, but her limbs seemed to have no interest in listening. Why was it so hard to breathe? In the distance, she could hear the beasts prowling. Or no, were they already here? She couldn’t breathe. Panic sparked in the darkness like a flame, and she clawed at the abyss until it split before her, until it spat her back up to consciousness on the cold stones. Her head lolled against her shoulder as her eyes opened, a choked breath tumbling out of her. Where was she?

A weight pressed against her and she belatedly realized that it was a dead young man that was draped over her, eyes blue and unseeing. A cry began to form in her throat as horror forced her leaden limbs into responding, desperate to get away from the pile of the dead she had been a part of. Then suddenly there were hands on her, both withered and young, pulling her up and away from the ground. Apron strings and matronly faces floated about her vision, a blur of female voices full of fear and worry alike. “She’s alive,” one voice murmured, only to be followed darkly by another weathered voice: “What difference does it make?”

Fighting the dizziness, Aeranys fumbled to sit up, and she felt two hands support her. Her own hand went to the back of her head, which came away bloody; whether it was her own or some other unfortunate soul’s, she could not quite tell, though the dull pain as she prodded at her soot-dyed hair indicated that at least a portion of it was hers. She turned to the unfamiliar women, blinking dazedly. “What’s happened?” she croaked, trying to clear her mind. She was in the courtyard--the raiders, who hadn’t been raiders, and then she’d seen--

“Serra,” she breathed. She had to find the Martell prince before he came across the poor maid in her place. However, when her vision finally allowed her to fully take in the sight spread before her, she could see that she was too late. Serra, still dressed in the nightgown, was cowering at the side of the Dornish prince, who looked nothing short of nightmarish due to being covered near head to toe in blood. As he stood, he beckoned with a hand, to which his soldiers pushed a man forward.

“The Seven save us,” a dark-haired woman wept, her arms curling tight around her child, who was barely older than a toddler. 

Though she watched in confusion, the women turned away, shielding their children’s eyes. The reason for their reaction soon became clear as the young man suddenly broke away from his captors and made a desperate dash for freedom. For a moment it seemed as if he had succeeded before an axe came hurtling through the air to bury itself deep into the man’s back. Aeranys could only stare as he fell and hit the ground with a thud, causing the women around her to flinch and smother back their sobs.

“None of us will survive to see the light of day,” an old and bent woman spat, “They’ll murder us all. I’ve said it would be so the moment they brought the dragon princess here…”

Fighting off well-meaning hands, Aeranys staggered up on swaying feet and squared her aching shoulders. “Enough!” she shouted, her voice cutting through the air like a knife. “I know where the princess is.” The women stared at her for a split moment before parting before her, eager to offer her up. The princess stepped forward, her eyes falling briefly to the cowering little maid, who did not even seem to recognize or hear her--then up to the monstrous young man who was to be her husband. “I can take you there,” she promised as she turned to lead them off in a brisk stride, all the while fighting the light-headedness that threatened to make her stumble. She had to get him away from Serra, get him and his soldiers away from all these people as fast as possible.

It was she he wanted, was it not? He’d come all this way to rescue his bride. These people had nothing to do with her capture, and most certainly not the timid maid who had risked everything to help her.

“I’m done with her,” she heard the words uttered so nonchalantly into the night air and stopped still, her heart plummeting. No. No, no, no, please, no! She turned just in time to see a soldier drag his blade across her thin neck, to see the blood spill forth to stain the white of the night shift. He dropped her carelessly and she fell onto the ground like a rag doll, discarded and never to move again--the sweet shy maid, who wanted nothing more than to read her mother’s books--

She could’ve screamed her outrage, her shock. She should’ve. But much to Aeranys’ horror, she found that she didn’t. Perhaps she’d seen one too many cruel deaths tonight, or at the hands of her father, or perhaps the mask of ‘perfect lady’ had finally sunk into her skin and left nothing behind. She found herself doing nothing but turning away from the poor girl’s final form with a queen’s poise--the same poise she’d maintained while walking away from the charred bodies, the strangled corpse of Brandon Stark--and never had she ever hated herself more.

He commanded her to stop, but she was unwilling to heed it until he had overtaken her; she refused to flinch at his touch as he turned her about to tear the kerchief from her soot-stained head. The dread she had felt when she had seen him earlier had dissipated, burned clean away with fury. There was a pause as he searched her face with his gaze, and she glowered up at him without a flicker of fear in her eyes. The first time she’d seen those odd yellow eyes peering down at her as she wiped the blood from her mouth, she’d thought them a pretty color. The second time, her temper had gotten better of her when she’d caught sight of the jeering look in them--something she’d been sorry for afterward. Now, staring up at the bloodstained prince, she wanted nothing more than to see him on the ground once more, stunned and shamed.

Alas, as he sunk into a proper bow, she knew she could not do such a thing. For indeed, she was Princess Aeranys, his betrothed, the only daughter of King Aerys, the last hope of the Targaryens.

“Prince Mors Martell,” she echoed back. Despite everything, despite her throbbing head, despite the rage rushing through her veins, she dipped into a graceful curtsy befitting her title before straightening to address him once more. “I thank you for coming to my aid in my hour of need,” she told him, the gracious words tasting like acid in her throat. “You and your men have proved most valiant in battle. But now that I am safe, I would ask that you order your men to withdraw from Greenstone. Surely, there is no need for any more blood to be shed tonight.”

There was a moment of silence, and then the prince and the young man next to him shared a look.

“Shall I have them put to the sword, or shall I have the men build a pyre?” the young man asked quite matter-of-factly.

At those callous words her insides grew cold as ice, but what came afterward was fire. She lurched away from the two men, snatching the carving knife from her apron pocket--but it was not towards either of them she pointed the blade towards, eyes ablaze. No, it was her own neck she brought the knife to. “Perhaps milords did not hear me clearly,” she spoke softly, even as she pressed the edge of the blade firmly against her leaping pulse. “I said, surely there is no need for any more blood to be shed tonight. If there is such a need, it will have to start with mine.”

She had failed Serra--she had failed many innocent lives tonight, but she was not about to let him butcher an entire island’s people for something their lord had done. This time, she would be her own hostage.
Title: Re: The Golden Sun and the Silver Moon [m]
Post by: Reigning King on May 29, 2019, 10:12:09 PM
It was not often that Prince Mors Nymeros Martell found himself surprised into silence, yet as he regarded the Targaryen Princess before him, pressing a blade to her own neck, all words left him in his confusion.  His wrists rested against the weapons at his belt, one nestled in the hilt of his scimitar while the other dangled casually over the staff of his axe, his weight shifted onto his dominant foot.  Black brows were knitted together in perplexity while the Prince and his men all looked on at the pretty young thing before them in a mutually shared stupor.  The first to rouse themselves from the trance were the Dornish soldiers who stood among them, encroaching upon the Princess with the clear intention to overpower and disarm her.  When she pressed the blade more firmly upon her porcelain throat, drawing forth a thin stream of red, Mors lifted a hand to halt them. 

“You would give your own neck for theirs?” He asked, allowing the puzzlement to touch upon his tone.  “Even though, you must know, that if you do kill yourself here and now, there will be nothing to stop me from killing each and every one of them…” The two Highborn children regarded one another in a curious quiet, distant sobs and the crackling of a village burning the only sounds heard travelling on the cool breeze of the night.  Like many who navigated within the High Lords’ Courts of Westeros, they knew of each other, having encountered one another on more than one occasion, but knew very little of each other beyond what they had heard from their own respective keepers and courtly hosts.  The stakes upon which the Targaryen Princess had rolled the dice were clear, her own life gambled upon the odds that she was more important to this particular boy than his own blood lust.  The reason for the wary looks shared amongst the Dornish soldiers who stood in wait for his command was also apparent; had she known this particular young man a little better, she might have never made such an uncertain wager.  Of course, the Prince had his own odds to consider, that being the likelihood that this demure, delicate Lady of High Society would have the stomach to open up her own throat -- she would only get one chance at it, after all.  Given the vantage of this particular toss-up, the next words that came from Prince Mors’ mouth registered as a surprise upon the faces of those around him. 

“You are asking me for my mercy?  It is yours to dispense.”  He took a careful step towards her then, breaking the silence with a calm voice, his golden eyes focused upon her her violet ones.  “You have my word, not another drop of blood will be shed by Dornish hands this night.”  Pausing, his gaze left hers only to stare more pointedly at the bruising upon her face.  “Unless you would like to point out which of my men has been foolish enough to raise a hand to you.”  The Princess said nothing in response, but her eyes left Mors’ for a moment, long enough to see Ser Devran seize one of his men by the shoulder and whisper some command or another into his ear.  When the Dornish soldier took off running back towards the manse, and Ser Devran resumed his statuesque pose of Knighthood at his liege’s side, her eyes returned to his. 

“All Dornishmen will leave this island before the sun rises, and none shall be harmed.  I promise I will spare these lives in your name.”  He paused again, only when he had her attention.  “Consider it a wedding gift.”  When he was close enough, he held out an expectant hand.  He watched her with a calculated stare, gauging the mounting fire that flickered within her purple gaze.  It was the same stern, shimmering look that he had seen in her when they had been mere children.  In a past life, he might have faced the wrath of her dragonfire.  Now, a girl no longer but instead a lady, she only bowed her head after a moment's’ hesitation, and placed the kitchen knife ceremoniously into his waiting hand.  He handed off the rudimentary blade and permitted a fleeting expression of disappointment to pass across his visage before he took the Targaryen Princess’ hand in in his own, and curled it about his bicep as though he were a gentleman at court and not a commander soaked in blood.  The gore-splattered lock of her silver hair was still tangled around the fingers that he lay overtop of her own as he escorted her from the manse and towards the coast.  They passed through what remained of the village, only a few charred beams standing in place of the crowded storefronts, bodies strewn carelessly through the streets.  The Dornishmen that loitered about, their numbers growing more dense as they approached the docks, made no move or effort to collect the dead, leaving them where they had fallen.  Instead they tore down stone foundations and spread the fires to those hovels which hadn’t yet been touched by the chaos.  Had she any intention of voicing further objection to these practices, she was not given the chance, as they were soon approached by yet another Dornish Prince. 

“And so the hero returns…” The Red Viper began, removing himself from the throngs of Dornish militants wearing a grin beaming with pride.  Were in not for the carnage spread across his breastplate, or the thick crimson dripping from the spear he carried nonchalantly over his shoulder, he might have appeared as the same arrogant, velvet-tongued Lord the Princess would have met within walls of her ancestors’ castle.  “Victory in his eyes and a rescued maiden upon his arm.”

“Something like that.” Mors returned, his voice as even and unreadable as ever.  The young commander and his party halted in front of the Martell Prince who met them.  Brown eyes reached the golden ones they searched, unspoken words exchanged through their gazes.  When the man known to Westeros as the Red Viper arched one brow high in his inquisitiveness, turning his attention back to the Princess, he regarded her with renewed interest.  “Princess Aeranys Targaryen, this is my uncle, Prince Oberyn Nymeros Martell.” He offered, gesturing to the man who bowed before her.

“It is an honour to do battle in service to the Dragon.” Oberyn said humbly as he straightened himself, moving to the Princess’ side as they resumed their march towards the docks.  “A cabin has been prepared for you aboard the pride of our fleet, The Dawn.  My daughters have surrendered their own Septa in your service, someone to dress your wounds and care for you at your discretion.” Mors made no objection to the assurances that his uncle sounded off into the ear of the bride at his arm.  They served, at the very least it seemed, to distract her from the butchery at their feet until at last they had made it onto the blood-smeared wood of the docks. 

“Princess Aeranys, this is our dear Septa Oranea.”  The individual who stood at the other end of Oberyn Martell’s gesturing hand was a mountain of a woman.  Her large brown eyes might have been comely on another face, but against her obsidian dark skin, the whites of her sandy spheres looked otherworldly and unsettling.  The nose that sat over full lips was broad and flat, her features plain when compared to her wide stare.  What the Princess would notice first however, was her towering stature.  She smiled down at the soot-stained young lady before her and unfolded her broad hands to offer one in tender aid. 

“Come, child.” Septa Oranea encouraged with the deep timber of her sweet, comforting voice.

Prince Mors, commander of his father’s forces, allowed his bride to uncurl herself from his arm in order to be handed off to the Septa who stood in wait aboard The Dawn.  He watched the large woman place a hand upon the Princess’ shoulder and guide her towards the cabins before he turned to his uncle, his expression unchanging and serious.  “How many remain in their fleet?” He asked.

“Five.” Oberyn Martell answered easily. 

Nodding as he looked between his uncle and Knight he continued saying, “load the prisoners into the galleys of their remaining ships, fly the Estermont banners and launch them into the bay.  We’ll send them to the gates of their liege.” Mors had meant to go on, but he had spoken too soon and his words had been heard by those still aboard the deck of The Dawn.   The Princess had said something, but when Mors turned around he found that she had been immobilized by gentle hands turned cruel.  Septa Oranea held her in a steadfast grip that the young woman would never be able to escape.  It was no small feat, to be tasked with the impossible duty of reigning in Prince Oberyn Martell’s willful daughters.  Septa Oranea had proved the only one equal to the challenge, and with that sweet smile still upon her face, she held the Princess in place. 

“I will keep my word to you, my betrothed.  No harm shall befall them by Dornish hands.  If you want to help them now, pray to the Seven for kind winds.”  The words he spoke to the Princess were said in an calm and even tone, without inflection, without feeling.  Yet, for those with a keen eye, a twitch could be found touching upon his lips, a subtle flickering of pleasant amusement.  The fury mounted in her eyes, blue-hot flames burning indigo within her hues.  There she was; the girl he remembered.

“This is war, Princess, and I have plans for this island.” It was with those words that he spun on his heel and left her to be hauled off by Septa Oranea, his uncle falling into step beside him, Ser Devran and the rest of their humble host upon their heels.   

“Perhaps such words could have awaited a more opportune moment?” The Red Viper suggested coyly from Mors’ side. 

“Perhaps.” He answered.  “But I like her better when she’s angry.”


(https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/7lWl1TsyxynR4M33OIkexTbR0UCnA5haZhmT0AgHG0wnBAOtRLwqYJK8I0Zo9iaF4HTmstA3AnPIUzJ8PPa16T0qobrEfwxZVlCen7UKICjyOMhIEEijte0u_bvzKrlAvBxSpzJc)


The people of Estermont gathered in loosely established groups, inching forward as they were herded onto their remaining boats.  They clung to their loved ones and fellow village-folk, sobbing quietly as the stronghold of Greenstone, the seat of House Estermont, burned in the distance.  The village and port-towns were destroyed, only smouldering ashes in the shadow of the black smoke that climbed into the sky as it billowed from the burning manse.  The sun had not yet risen from beyond the horizon, but her light touched upon the sky, casting the star-speckled twilight in a golden haze, illuminated by the burning of the fortress and all who had been left within its walls. 

“We found him.” Ser Devran informed his Prince as he appeared from within the smoke-laden mist of the coming dawn.  Behind him, four Dornishmen carried a pale-faced cripple upon a stretcher of canvas and wood.  “The one-handed Knight that Oranea spoke of.”

“Ser Laenor,” Mors began as he approached the barely-conscious man. 

“Prin… Princess Aeranys…” The Knight croaked, lungs blackened by smoke having stolen his voice. 

“Is safe.” Prince Mors answered. 

“Safe…” The Knight repeated, his head falling back against the stretcher, his gaze lifting to the sky and then closing.  Upon his chest, lay the stump of what had once been his right hand.  Unable to wield a sword, he would be useless to the Princess he had once served by all accounts now.  However, perhaps she would be softened by the gesture of having sought him out from within the ruins of his conquered territory. 

“See him to the healers.” He commanded the men who held the cripple aloft.  At once they set into motion and carried him off towards the Dornish fleet which waited upon the docks.  “Ser Devran, have the soldiers load the crates and…” Mors meant to go on, but Ser Devran was otherwise distracted.  From the collection of Estermont prisoners, a small boy had broken from the pack and come racing at the Dornish Prince while his back had been left exposed.  The Knight had stepped forward and intercepted the boy, catching him by the throat and wrist, hoisting him into the air.  He kicked and thrashed as his face grew red, helpless against the larger man who held him aloft like a child with a wiggling snail from the garden.

“Put him down.” Mors instructed in a bored, monotonous voice.  Ser Devran did as commanded, easily wrenching the dagger the boy had been holding from his grip.  “What’s your name?” The Dornish Prince asked. 

“You killed my father!” The boy snarled back, restrained by the large hand that held him by the underside of his bicep. 

“That’s certainly possible.  I’ve killed a lot of people tonight.” He answered back plainly.  “What’s your name?” He tried again.  When the boy said nothing in response, the Golden Fang continued saying, “my name is Mors Nymeros Martell of Dorne.”

“Rylen Wells, of the Island of Estermont.” The boy finally surrendered, a defiant pride lifting his chin into the air in spite of the angry tears that streamed down his face. 

“Not anymore.” Mors replied cruelly, gesturing with a casual malice to the burning horizon that enveloped them.  Rage flashed hot and red across his round, innocent face and he struggled bravely against Ser Devran’s clamped hand in spite of how it twisted his shoulder.  “Were you going to kill me with this?” The yellow-eyed man asked of the boy before him, taking his dagger from Knight beside him and turning it over in his hands. 

“If you’re going to murder me like your murdered my father, then get it over with!” The child before him raged, saliva gathering in a froth at the corners of his mouth, the blood vessels in his eyes swelling along with his mounting hysteria. 

“I cannot murder you.” Mors explained carefully, his voice taking on a new intonation of patience.  “I made someone a promise you would live through this night.” He crouched in front of the small, hateful creature before him, careless for the curious, asking expression that had overtaken his boyish features.  “When you are grown and strong, when you learn how to use this properly…” As he spoke, he tucked the dagger into the boy’s beltline.  “Come find me, Rylen.” 

Rising from his crouched position, the Dornish Prince looked away from the young boy with an utter indifference.  Ser Devran handed him off to another soldier, who shoved him back amongst the other despondent souls, the last of the prisoners to be ushered into the ships.  They would be launched into Shipbreaker Bay, bound for the direction of their liege land.  As islanders there would be sailers among them who would take the command, and most if not all were likely to make it to the rocky coast that awaited them.  They would never, however, be able to return to the island as it belonged to another now.  As the sails swelled with the morning wind and people of Estermont pulled away from the shores of their home they watched as the Dornish soldiers carried and dropped three large wooden crates onto the stoney beach.  True to his word, the infantry retreated into the galleys of the Tor and High Hermitage fleets, the only ship remaining upon the docks of Estermont was The Dawn, awaiting her Prince who stood alone upon the sands of his conquered island.  As the sun began to rise over the horizon, Prince Mors Martell opened the wooden crates with an iron bar, stepping back as hundreds of snakes poured forth.  They slithered through the beach, bound for the bounty of an island waiting to be swallowed, yellows, greens and reds slipping over each other and sliding across his booted feet.  The third and final crate contained within it a specimen larger than all the rest.  She lifted her head, folding her yellow and white scaled body back upon the man-sized mass resting within her thick middle.  Reaching out, Mors dragged his hand across her head, a forked tongue emerging to touch upon his flesh one last time before turning from him and sliding through the sands after her children.  He had paid a pretty penny for her and raised the great snake from a hatchling.  A year ago, he had given her a mate and beneath careful control they had multiplied hundreds of times over.  Left unfettered, their numbers would grow to the thousands.  The Maesters called their kind an invasive species.  It would take less than three months for them to overrun the entire island, their island now, and forevermore his island. 

It was not until their second day at sea that Mors knocked upon the doors to Princess Aeranys’ cabins.  When Septa Oranea opened the doors, she revealed two very different individuals standing on either end.  The soot had been washed from the Princess’ hair as the blood had been cleaned from his own.  She was dressed now in fine silks of a Dornish fashion and he in a clean, embroidered tunic of gold thread.  While her expression was poised and cold, his own was warm and open though still as indecipherable as always.  Prince Mors stepped inside and nodded to the Septa, who bowed her head in respect to the Princess before making a swift exit, closing the doors behind her. 

“Princess Aeranys.” Mors greeted politely, bowing to the young woman before him.  She replied in kind, offering him a curtsey though he could sense by the tension in the air between them that she was loathed to do so. 

“I came to apologize to you for my deception.” He said as he stepped further into the room.  “It was unbecoming of a husband and it will not happen again.” Though spoken in earnest, the words appeared to fall on deaf ears.  She had been seated at a writing desk when he had entered, and it was to this same desk that she returned now, resuming her task as though he hadn’t spoken at all.  “Ser Laenor fares well.” He tried next, stepping towards her again.  “His fever has broken.  The infection will have to be cut away but the healers assure me he will live.” The quill with which the Princess wrote in her neat scrawl never paused. 

His patience expended, Mors crossed the room and plucked a nearby chair, dragging it towards the desk at which her Grace, the Princess Aeranys worked indignantly.  Golden eyes watched her measured expression for a time before reaching into his pocket and producing a bracelet which he set upon the parchment on which the Princess wrote.  Now, at last, her quill stopped.  “She stole it from you?” He ventured.  As her gaze lifted to his own, her his yellow eyes found hers, he saw the answers he sought swimming in her purple hues.   “You gave it to her.”  It wasn’t a question.  “Well, then I’m sorry for that as well.”  When it seemed as though she might brush him off again, he reached out and snatched the quill from her hand before setting it down with an intentional carefulness at the top of the parchment upon which she had been writing. 

“Tell me how I can make it up to you.”

Title: Re: The Golden Sun and the Silver Moon [m]
Post by: asterin on June 01, 2019, 02:54:24 PM
The sway of the waves rocked the ship in a rhythmic fashion, lulling the weary souls on-board into a deep sleep. Still, in the middle of the inky night, the princess was dragged up from the depths of slumber by a strange discomfort. She fumbled in the darkness for a light, her fingers clumsy and unyielding in her confusion. At her movements, however, the tightness around her chest only worsened. Despite herself, Aeranys could not keep from succumbing to the instinct to struggle as alarm shot through her head; she needed light--a candle, a torch--something, anything--she couldn’t see, she couldn’t…

At last, it seemed she had grasped something, the gloom abruptly lighting up before her to show her the source of her trouble--a giant yellow python wrapped about her torso. A strangled scream ripped out of her as she clawed at the reptile, but the sound was cut off into a sharp gasp as the smooth muscle tightened about her. With each shallow, frenetic breath she felt her ribs being crushed, her lungs burning as the life was choked out of her. She tried to kick, to pry the beast off of her, but it seemed unmovable, completely unfazed. Unable to scream for help, she desperately fought for air as the snake watched her fade, its golden eyes detached and unfeeling.

She lurched awake in the dark, chest heaving and cold sweat trickling down her face. Gasping, she struggled to sit up, only to find that she had firmly entangled herself in the sheets. The princess immediately tore herself free from the cloth, her breathing still erratic and rough as she shoved the sheets away from her as if they were the python. She hugged her knees, trying to recover from her nightmare induced fright, but it was not as simple as she would have liked. Her mouth was dry as she swallowed, numb fingers tucking away tendrils of silver that had been plastered to her face. It was only a dream, she assured herself, but it was an empty, meaningless comfort.

Though she’d dreamt of frightening things since childhood, her sleep had been plagued with only terror ever since she had been rescued from Greenstone--nightmares of poor Serra with a gaping throat, blaming her with her sad, sad eyes as blood bubbled at her mouth; another was a particularly hellish vision of the young Dornish prince. In her dreams she would be frozen still as he slaughtered anyone and everyone, a sweet smile on his lips as his axe and scimitar took lives from all around them. The corpses he’d lay at her feet with reverence, until the pile of the dead became an overwhelming mountain, burying her alive. She’d wake, struggling, or be woken by the towering Septa at her side.

It was little wonder why she had not been sleeping well. In fact, if she would’ve avoided sleep altogether if she could, but her escape had taken a toll on her body. She needed rest now more than ever, and yet she would toss and turn, unable to forget the lives she had failed. The young woman leaned limply against the pillows, her eyes staring into the darkness. She could not help but wonder if she’d ever have a restful night again.


++++++++


Dearest Mother,

I hope this letter finds you in good courage and health. I am safe now, as you must have already heard, but I wished to write to you in my own hand so that I may rid your heart of any worry. I am well, mother, fear not, and in good spirits. I was not ill-treated during my capture, but now that I have been freed, the only thing I have need of is sound repose. Fortunately, the rolling waves seem to put my heart at peace--I am sleeping well.

My rescue was swift. My betrothed, Prince Mors Nymeros Martell--


She paused, her hand coming to a stop. She inspected her handiwork, a letter she had painstakingly put together. There was no need to dwell on the two other letters she had finished and disposed of soon after. The first had been more of a flow of consciousness than a letter, a rush of fear, guilt, full of more questions than answers. The second had been a far more coherent depiction of her experience, but also a far too honest one. Now, on her third attempt, the princess had finally been able to rein in her emotions, offering her mother something that would quell her anxiety. Rattling out sanitized, pretty words were second nature to her by now, and yet, her mind had come to an abrupt halt at the task of having to write about her husband-to-be.

She stared at where her quill had stopped, the black script of his name. Prince Mors Nymeros Martell.

They had not spoken since that hellish night--she had not even seen him.

Truth be told, that did not grieve her in the slightest.

The princess could think of many, many words to describe the Dornish prince, but none of them would be put to paper. None of them would be for her mother’s eyes. She forced her hand back into motion, the quill jerking to attention to scrawl out the words she needed to write.

--he was most valiant in his efforts to save me. I know his reputation proceeds him, mother, but he has treated me with the utmost respect and kindness. Ours may be a marriage of necessity, but most are, as you have once told me. I know there will be hardships along the way--


The sudden sound of knocking broke her concentration and the young woman looked up, her gaze going from the door to the dark-skinned septa who stood up from her reading and strode over to let in their unexpected guest. She too rose, a hand instinctively smoothing down the skirts of her new gown as she took her stance. The figure on the other side of the door was very different in appearance to the young man who haunted her nightmares, but it was without a doubt the same person--Mors Nymeros Martell. He was dressed smartly, not a speck of blood left on his person, and he wore a pleasant expression on his handsome face. If she hadn’t known better, he would have looked the part of a noble young prince. Of course, that wasn’t the case.

The princess watched the septa leave, not uttering a word of protest despite not wanting to be left alone with the Dornishman. Though she reciprocated his courteous greeting, she found herself utterly unwilling to play along any further when he opened his mouth. She had already exhausted her supply of pretty lies for the day, and she still had to finish this letter. Instead of giving him any indication that she had heard him, she seated herself back at the table, silently picking up her quill again to continue her string of reassuring falsehoods.

--but you have taught me to persevere, to be a good wife and mother regardless of circumstance.

“Ser Laenor fares well.” He spoke again. “His fever has broken.  The infection will have to be cut away but the healers assure me he will live.” Still, she said nothing, not even sparing him a look as she continued to write. After all, she knew of this already, having asked Septa Oreana of the knight’s condition every morning and evening. At her lack of a response, he dragged a chair over and seated himself in it, perhaps trying to signal that he would not be brushed off so easily. Unfortunately for him, the Targaryen princess was set on ignoring his presence. Lips pursed, she wrote at a furious pace, loathe to look at the words she produced.

He is a stranger to me yet, true, but I believe he has a good heart. I believe that in time, I can learn to lov--

With a metallic clink, an item was set upon her letter--a bracelet. Her mother’s bracelet. She froze, her gaze on the familiar loop of silver and mother-of-pearl. How…?

“She stole it from you?” he dared to ask. Her eyes finally flicked up to meet his, and he must have caught sight of the indignant glower at his assumption, for he corrected himself soon after. “You gave it to her.” The maid’s timid smile bubbled up in her mind’s eye--sweet Serra, shy Serra. Dead, dead, dead, never to smile again Serra. “Well, then I’m sorry for that as well,” he concluded, and her jaw tightened with unspoken fury.

What use was an apology to her? What good was it to Serra, what good was it to all the other slaughtered innocents? What good was it to the rest of the survivors, floating out abandoned in Shipbreaker Bay? She turned away from him and gripped her quill--only to have it snatched from her grasp by the prince, who was clearly done with being ignored. Knowing she had hit the limit of his patience, she turned back to him with the mask of attentiveness on her face. What he said next, however, was not at all what she expected. “Tell me how I can make it up to you,” he told her, and for a moment she only stared back.

She recovered quickly, however, finally speaking her first proper words to him since they had left the doomed isle of Greenstone. “I thank you for your most gracious and generous offer,” she spoke back calmly. “But there is nothing you need to do, milord. What is done cannot be undone.”

The effect was near instantaneous.

The prince who had been seated, serene and stately, bolted up from his seat with such force that the chair went clattering to the floor. She had no time to react with surprise or anger, however, for he gripped the writing desk next, knocking it over and upending everything that had been on it. Papers went flying, ink splashing outwards, wood and metal falling together in an unpleasant cacophony.

He turned to her and suddenly she found herself on her feet as well, shrinking away from him before she knew what she was doing. Then she realized what words had risen to her throat and stopped, stricken.

Please, don’t!

Her horrified lavender eyes fell to the floor, where pools of black ink stained her neatly written lies, all designed to shield her mother from her soon-to-be husband’s horrors--just as her mother had done her utmost to shield her from her father’s madness. Was she doomed to live out her worst nightmare as history repeated itself? Would she one day have to offer her children wan and weary smiles to dismiss their concern, only able to wish that they fared better than her? And when he was through with her, what would he do with her? Dispose of her, just as he had done with Serra?

Please, don’t!

Her hands clenched into fists, her horror giving way to a different emotion; her insides burned hot as coals, hot, hot, hotter, the same wrenching feeling in her gut as she had when she’d rushed to her mother’s quarters, knife in hand. “You wish to make it up to me, do you?” she began softly, though her tone was far from being polite or demure. She raised her head high, pinning him down with her burning gaze as she stepped towards him, her voice growing harder. “So be it. You will never again betray my trust--you will never again hurt me as you already have,” she intoned scathingly as she approached him, more predator than prey now. Caring not a whit for propriety in her rage, she encroached upon him until she no longer could, until they were nearly touching. Glaring up into his strange golden eyes, she reached out to prod at his heart none-too-gently as she made her demands. “You will dig deep into the depths of your black heart and find a way to be good, to me, to our future children, for I will not be misused.”
Title: Re: The Golden Sun and the Silver Moon [m]
Post by: Reigning King on June 07, 2019, 06:40:12 PM
It had been a few years since Mors had last seen Princess Aeranys Targaryen.  The occasion had been her elder brother’s wedding to the young Cersei Lannister.  For once, Mors had been excited for a formal courtly engagement, willingly agreeing to the long trip to the Capital without any coercion required on the part of his father.  Along with the invitation to be in attendance for the ceremony, a secondary message had been hand delivered by a royal emissary sent directly from King’s Landing.  In fine, feminine lettering that could belong only to her Majesty, herself, Queen Rhaella Targaryen, the Princess was described.  Accompanying this parchment, complete with a royal seal, was a painted miniature of Princess Aeranys.  It had been two years since her previous fiance had died, her brother, Daeron Targaryen -- the ways of the Dragon Lords of Old Valyria were foreign to the descendants of the Rhoynish who fled them centuries past.  The time of mourning had ended and the Princess Aeranys Targaryen, in good spirits and good health as described by her own mother, was eligible for marriage.  Many would clamour for the opportunity to ally themselves with the royal family, or perhaps simply to claim such a beautiful bride for their own.  Unlike others, Mors didn’t want the Princess because of beauty, or advantage.  Nothing so petty could ever move him. 

The young heir of Dorne had disregarded the description of the girl whose image he took in had.  They were only words after all, and most of the agreeable words Mors knew were lies.  He had met the Princess before.  He knew what she looked like.  That wasn’t what was important to him.  That afternoon he sat in the Water Gardens with the miniature of Princess Aeranys Targaryen, perfectly poised with her hands folded in her lap.  The expression on her face was passive and sweet.  It must have taken hours upon hours for the artist to have painted them, etching each likeness over and over again.  He had envisioned her growing restless and her keepers attempting to force her to sit still -- but he would have to imagine that they could never make her do anything!  He had fantasized that the painter must have filled in the details of the remaining commissions by memory.  It would explain why the fool had gotten the eyes wrong, illustrating a shallow, submissive girl.  A pretty doll to keep on a shelf.  The miniature was a lie, but so was everything else.  When he had arrived on the docks of King’s Landing, alongside his father, uncle and aunt, they had been greeted by Lord Tywin Lannister.  He was still the Hand of the King in those days.  When looking back upon the morning, Mors remembered most how impatient he had been to see the Princess.  Forgotten was the portrait depicted in the miniature.  He had been eager to see the girl he remembered.

They finally came face to face on the day of the ceremony.  He met her, one of many in a long line of suitors seizing the opportunity to make an impression, on the steps of the Sept of Baelor.  He approached the royal family with his father, his aunt and uncle having already found their place amidst the masses.  Much to his surprise and disappointment, the miniature he had spent hours gazing into turned out to be an astonishingly accurate reflection of the young woman he stood before.  She stood with her hands folded daintily in front of her, violet hues cast down towards the stone steps beneath her feet.  Their parents talked over their heads, but as the two Highborn children stood across from one another in silence, Mors searched for her gaze.  Eventually, he craned his neck and crouched beneath her bowed head in an effort to catch her eye.  When he finally did, he was repulsed by what he saw lurking within her stare.  Her gaze flicked away from his again and he righted himself and folded his hands behind his back.  Offering polite formalities to the monarchs before him, Mors made his exit ahead of his father.  If the Princess lifted her gaze, she would have only see the back of the Dornish boy’s head as he marched off. 

From a tender age, Mors had known that he was different.  By the time he had entered the midmost of his youth, he understood what that different part of him looked like and how terrified the rest of the world became at the sight of it.  A delicate and demure lady of the court would never survive him.  She would break, just as his own mother had.  Princess Aeranys was even worse.  There, stood a woman who was already broken.  “I have no interest in such a woman.  Better she find a match with a gentler man.” That was what he had told his father when Prince Doran had inquired after the subject.   

The same anger he had felt then, he experienced now, as the Princess Aeranys Targaryen, his betrothed, spewed her fine, feminine words.  “I thank you for your most gracious and generous offer…” Lies.  “But there is nothing you need to do, my Lord.  What is done cannot be undone.”  She was pretending, lying to him with sweet, pretty words.  Utterances pulled from the great book society unwittingly writes titled, The Right Things to Say.  All of them lies. 

Mors knew the right thing to say, what he ought to say in such a circumstance, but he was tired of lying.  When he had looked upon her, the first time since her brother’s wedding ceremony in King’s Landing, he had found the girl he remembered looking back up at him.  Covered in soot, bruised and bleeding, glowering at him with a hot-burning rage.  There stood before him the girl he remembered, someone he could be proud to have by his side, a woman who could endure him.  He wanted to see that girl again.  The pleasing words which sat in wait upon the tip of his tongue dissipated along with his pleasant and patient expression.  Rising from his chair abruptly he gave the Princess no time to react before grasping the desk by its edge and pitching it end over end into the center of her decorous cabin.  She looked at him with wide, horrified eyes and then down at the chaos he had wrought within her small world but he encroached on her nevertheless.  More lies.  The girl he remembered was not afraid of him.  When her gaze found his again however, he was given pause. 

There she is…

Mors listened to her carefully as she spoke, committing each word to memory, bound to them as a slave to a master’s command.  Here was not Princess Aeranys Targaryen, but instead the dragon who sat in wait behind the polite, comely representative. This was the woman he wanted. 

“As you say.”  The veil had fallen once more over his charming, boyish features.  The anger had evaporated into the air, as light as it was heavy when it had first landed upon his face.  Mors leaned towards his bride, the woman he had been waiting for, close enough to smell her.  Once more he played the role of the gracious, pleasant High Lord, a mask of contentment blurring the intent upon his serene expression.  Taking one of her hands in his own, his stooped to lay a kiss upon the back of her palm before laying his other hand over top, enveloping her dainty digits.  “You will not be misused.” Mors repeated. 

Something flickered across his visage, a slight parting of the curtains of his veil, revealing an intense and pointed focus.  As this seriousness ghosted across his expression, he tightened his grip on the Princess Aeranys’ hand.  “But you will be useful.”  Only when the violet of her eyes met the haunted yellow hue of his own did he finally release her hand and turn from her, striding from the cabin and leaving her alone in the wreckage of his wrath before another pretty lie could be uttered between them. 


(https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/7lWl1TsyxynR4M33OIkexTbR0UCnA5haZhmT0AgHG0wnBAOtRLwqYJK8I0Zo9iaF4HTmstA3AnPIUzJ8PPa16T0qobrEfwxZVlCen7UKICjyOMhIEEijte0u_bvzKrlAvBxSpzJc)


The Dornish fleet arrived at the docks of Sunspear the following afternoon.  The Dawn and other ships carrying high-status cargo given priority in their return.  Prince Mors Nymeros Martell stood upon the main deck, a pleasant expression upon his face and the wind in his hair as The Dawn lowered her sails as the crew moved around him to secure the vessel.  At the sound of someone clearing their throat, Mors turned to face Septa Oranea as she escorted Princess Aeranys to her husband-to-be’s side.  They moved in silence alongside one another as they disembarked from the ship, legs adjusting to the firm wood beneath their feet after so many days at sea.  Upon the dock Mors extended his arm to the Princess, curling her hand about his bicep as he had done that bloody night.  This time, the sunlight set his eyes sparkling golden, the smell of the sea chasing away memories of copper and steel.  “My father has not yet returned from his travels, so I will be busy attending to his affairs.”  He prattled pleasantly in her ear as they started along the docks towards the party who stood in wait for them at the end.  “In my absence, my sister will fuss over you, I would advise that you let her.” They looked the part of a smartly matched, young couple.  If Princess Aeranys pretended hard enough, she might be able to convince herself she had found the honourable, handsome hero that the songs had promised her.  Of course, Mors pretended more than anyone.

As they walked along the dock, one small figure broke away from the group that had gathered to welcome them.  They reached for him but he escaped their grasp and came bounding along the wooden boards.  It was his brother, Quentyn, but for a moment Mors was reminded of a different little boy who had come running towards him.  His mask cracked and something in his expression flinched, although it was only for an instant.  Dropping Princess Aeranys hand he moved ahead of her with long strides that turned into running leaps as his younger brother crashed into him.  The small boy wrapped his arms around Mors’ middle and pressed his face into his stomach.  Even though he had only been gone for a week and a half, to Quentyn it clearly felt like much longer.  After having begun his squireship for Lord Anders Yronwood, the young boy had grown greedy for his older brother’s attention, not even sparing a glance in the direction of the maiden trailing after them as he tugged Mors along by the hand into the waiting arms of his family. 

Arianne was the first to embrace him, pulling away so that her older brother could lay a kiss upon her forehead.  Next it was his father’s sister, Princess Elia who took Mors into her arms, handing off the toddler who reached desperately for his eldest brother.  Trystane wrapped his arms around his brother’s neck, burying his face into Mors’ curls with a grip that was unlikely to let up any time soon.  As Prince Oberyn approached, and his daughters pressed forward, led by his uncle’s paramour, Lady Ellaria Sand, Arianne turned to the Targaryen Princess who stood unsure upon the end of the dock.  She had stepped away from her brother as Quentyn began babbling while Mors cooed in Trystane’s ear soothingly, doting on his baby brothers like a wet-nurse. 

“You must be Princess Aeranys.” She said as she stepped forward.  Unlike her brother, Arianne was an open book.  The curiosity could be read on her face as plain as the apprehensiveness.  She had never met someone she couldn’t make like her.  Kindness was a talent, same as any other, and she had learned well from her aunt Elia.  “I’ve always wanted a sister.” Arianne wasted no time in making her intentions known, reaching out to take the Princess’ hands in her own.  “Let’s be friends.” Though her gaze was no less intense than her brother’s, there was naught but sincerity swimming within her warm brown eyes. 

“Don’t be rude, Arianne.” Mors scolded.  Trystane was sitting back on his eldest brother’s arms now, tiny hands playing with the older boy’s curls.  “Let me introduce my bride.”

“Introductions can wait for later.” Princess Elia chimed in, moving away from the brother on whose cheek she laid kisses, placing a hand now on her nephew’s shoulder.  “Princess Aeranys, you must be worn from your journey.  Your chambers have been prepared in anticipation for your arrival.” She explained. 

“Oh, I can take her!” Arianne offered, reaching out to take the Princess’ hands again.

“That won’t be necessary, Arianne.  Why don’t you see to your brothers?” Princess Elia suggested sweetly, shooing away the girl’s invasive touch.  “Mors, I’m sure your Lords are anxious for an audience.” She reminded her nephew as she came to stand beside the Targaryen Princess who would become her niece. 

“Thank you, aunt Elia.” Mors returned.  Quentyn took his older sister’s hand without much trouble but Trystane had resume his grip around his older brother’s neck.  “Until tonight, Princess.” He told the silver haired young woman politely, albeit distractedly as he and his sister started towards the palace, children in hand. 

The Palace Guards of Sunspear moved forward, reaching out to lay guiding hands upon the foreign bride but Elia shooed those hands away as well.  “Now, now, boys.  I’m sure Princess Aeranys can walk just fine on her own.” She chided gently.  “After what you’ve been through, I’m sure the last thing you want is to be handled like a prisoner.” The words were spoken directly to the young woman before her before she returned her chastening eye back to the guards.  “Princess Aeranys is our guest, and the future Ruling Princess of Dorne.” Looking at the Princess once more and offering her a beaming smile she added, “show her the same respect you show me.”  Taking a few steps forward and then pausing, Princess Elia Martell of Dorne looked back to the young girl who had bravely landed upon unknown shores, sold to a stranger for the price an army.  Offering her a sympathetic expression she asked gently, “are you coming?”
Title: Re: The Golden Sun and the Silver Moon [m]
Post by: asterin on July 05, 2019, 08:24:50 PM
The sea voyage had not been terribly long--certainly not as long as the journey from King’s Landing had initially been. Despite this, when they finally reached the shores of Dorne, Aeranys found herself wearier than she would have ever chosen to admit. The sleepless nights had continued, something she could only hope that Septa Oranea would keep in confidence. As the princess took her betrothed’s arm to be led down to the dock where a group of people awaited their arrival, she mustered her strength to hide her fatigue and act the perfect lady once more. She lowered her gaze as they walked, her head tilted ever-so-accommodatingly to the words that he murmured to her, responding only with a tempered, “Of course, milord.”

If it had been jarring to see her husband-to-be’s transformation from bloodthirsty monster to high lord, it could not compare to the image of the loving older brother she was now presented with as Mors Martell reunited with his family. Though she had been well aware of the fact, she was reminded in a different way as the two young boys clung to his form that he was the eldest among his siblings. It was a far cry from her own life, having been the youngest to survive infancy. She watched the way the boy who was barely more than a toddler play with her intended’s curls, curls that had been drenched with blood only a few nights prior. Among the many siblings that had come after her, she’d only held two in her arms--Viserys and Jaeherys, little brothers who had died before their first year had been up. Would things have been different, she wondered, if they’d survived--if they’d all survived. Would her father be a different man, or had the madness been inevitable…?

It was the clear voice of the pretty young girl that was directed to her first, and she met her warm brown eyes with her own. Unlike her own expression, it was clear to anyone what she was feeling. Picking up on the nervousness written on her face, Aeranys’ reserved and polite smile mellowed ever-so-slightly. “And you must be Arianne Martell,” she began, only for the girl to grasp her hand without any sort of fanfare. She couldn’t help but blink, momentarily overwhelmed by Arianne’s forward gesture and the sentiments that soon followed: I’ve always wanted a sister. Let’s be friends.

Luckily for her, the Dornish prince was quick enough to step in for her reaction to go unnoticed--and then, even more fortuitously, his aunt graciously offered her a way out by mentioning the chambers that had been prepared for her. “You have my utmost thanks, Princess Elia,” she murmured gratefully, a small wave of relief washing over her. As much as she had to keep up appearances, she could not deny that she was eager to hole herself away in a room, away from any and all prying eyes. Bidding her betrothed and his siblings farewell, she turned to join Elia Martell when the palace guards moved towards her, arms outstretched. For a moment she stiffened, and the Dornish princess immediately called them to a halt, gently chastising them and reminding them of what she would become one day--Ruling Princess of Dorne. Her gaze was warm and sympathetic as she looked her way, and the fair-haired girl stepped after her. She was not as foolish as to think that outward impressions were all earnest, but something in her kind demeanor reminded her of the qualities she loved best in her mother.

Flanked by the guards that kept a respectable distance from them, the two princesses tread into the palace of Sunspear. As they walked, the dark-haired beauty made a few comments here and there, pointing out the most important spaces and towers of the keep as they passed them. Her quarters were to be in the Tower of the Sun, the Dornish princess explained, one of the twin towers that she had likely seen from afar while they were still on the sea. Aeranys meanwhile nodded along politely, dropping in a musing comment here and there. It was when they were making their way up the tower that Elia Martell brought up a subject that was unrelated to Sunspear itself. “I will be hosting a feast in the Water Gardens this evening,” the young woman began carefully. “It would gladen my heart if you would grace us with your presence, Princess Aeranys.” Then she smiled, a hint of playfulness, warm like a sunlit afternoon. “It is in your honor, after all.”

“I would be delighted to,” she replied, inclining her head demurely. “Thank you for your generosity, Princess.”

“I am happy to offer it,” the Dornish princess said, shaking her head. “A septa will be sent to you later, to help you dress. Feel free to peruse the wardrobe--I’m sure many more will come once you’ve been properly measured, but we’ve prepared a few that would be about the right size.”

Once they reached the set of gilded double doors that would lead to her chambers, Elia Martell came to a stop. “And here we are,” she announced, gesturing. “Now, please get some rest, we still have many hours before evening comes.” With that same benevolent smile, the dark-haired beauty left her, leaving only a pair of guards to stand at each side of the doors. Drawing in a small breath, Aeranys stepped through them and into her chambers.

It was a far cry from her quarters in the Red Keep, a majesty of a different kind--light and airy, decorated with beautiful silks and bright flowers. A gilded round table displayed a bowl of luscious tropical fruits and a jug of some beverage or other, lest the princess grow hungry before dinnertime came. In the center of the room was a large bed hidden behind layers of thin silks, upon which piles of cushions and pillows were laid out. The chambers clearly were bigger, and she could see a glimpse of a door that would likely lead to other accommodations, but she found herself too tired to explore. Pushing aside the delicate curtains, she seated herself carefully on the corner of the mattress. It was quite spacious, perhaps just about as spacious as the bed that had been in Daeron’s room. Slowly, she sank down upon it, curled up tight and small, her body molding to a familiar shape that was no longer necessary in the absence of her brothers. Weary and safe in Dorne at last, homesickness seemed to finally rush in to take a hold of her, and despite the hot and arid climate of Dorne, the young woman could not help but feel cold. It was the sound of Rhaegar’s lyre and Daeron’s hushed tones as he read aloud that she finally fell asleep to, a slumber black and thankfully void of terror.


*********


Readily assisted by Ser Devran, the Targaryen princess stepped into the waiting litter and seated herself in the center of it. It was just as lavishly decorated as her chambers, and as it was lifted up onto the shoulders of the bearers she peeked out of the window, watching as they began to move. The young man who had been at her bethrothed’s side moved to the front of the line, likely being her official escort to the Water Gardens. Her gaze lingered on him for a moment, recalling the way he and his liege had stared at her as she stood with a blade to her throat. Then it passed, and her eyes flicked back to the passing scenery.

It had been Septa Oranea who had been sent to help her dress, which she considered an unexpected blessing. It was a small comfort to have a familiar face tend to her when she had no female entourage of her own, but Aeranys knew that she would have to get used to strangers soon enough. This was to be her home, and she had no choice but to adapt.

Much to her relief, the Septa had also brought news about Ser Laenor along with her. She’d reassured her that he was being well taken care of by the best Maesters in Sunspear, and that last she’d seen him, he’d been sleeping soundly. Aeranys had yet to see the knight in person since she’d left him in the stable, though she’d asked twice on their way to Dorne. Septa Oranea had told her that it was best to let him rest, that he spent the majority of the time asleep, eased by milk of the poppy--but now the princess wondered if she might be able to visit the injured knight. He had been through much because of her, and she had yet to properly apologize to him…

Her thoughts came to a halt along with the litter, and a moment later she felt it being lowered onto the ground. The sound of footsteps came afterwards, along with the voice of the young man who had been entrusted with her safety. “Milady, we have arrived in the Water Gardens,” he announced, offering her his hand as he opened the door.

“Thank you, Ser Devran,” she said cordially, taking his hand and stepping carefully out of the litter to rearrange the flowing skirts of her gown. It was an elegant dress of pale lilac--a subtle but calculated choice. Aeranys was not foolish enough to wear the bold Targaryen colors when she was first being presented to court, nor did she think she would be well received in Martell colors when she was not yet a part of it. Lilac, on the other hand, was an unassuming and soft color, befitting a bride; indeed, it had been the color of the dress she’d been made to wear years prior, when they’d painted miniature after miniature to secure her a husband. One did not see a creature wrapped up in pale lilac silks and think her to be a threat.

“Shall we, princess?” the comely young man asked, gesturing towards the path paved in rosy marble. Indeed, how often it now seemed that pretty faces could hide such atrocious deeds.  “I believe everyone is anticipating your arrival.”

“It wouldn’t do to have them wait on my account,” she responded as she was expected to. Turning, she nodded at the men who had carried the litter, offering them words of gratitude before allowing herself to be led away.

They were hardly the only ones walking down the path--many people were heading towards the terraced gardens. It was not difficult for her to realize that these were not nobles, but common folk; some turned to look curiously at the foreign princess, while others seemed eager to make it to their destination. As she drew nearer, she could see children rushing up to their parents, wet, dark hair slicked to their small bodies. Among them, however, were children who were clearly of status, and her suspicions were confirmed as equally well-dressed High Lords collected their children, leading them down to the main hall. Both children and parents of different classes bid each other farewell, bejeweled noble children waving goodbye to scrawny common children, promising to meet on the morrow. It was an almost surreal scene to the princess, something she could’ve only dreamed of as an unruly lass.

When they finally reached the grand hall, two guards opened a set of double doors for the princess and her escort. She was greeted by the sight of a room to near bursting with people, while at the head of the table, sat Princess Elia Martell and her intended; while the atmosphere was lively, each pair of eyes and lips full of laughter and cheer as they chatted amongst themselves, the Dornish Prince was stone-faced as usual, his strange golden eyes unreadable.

A shout caught her attention, and her gaze flicked to the two children in the midst of a spirited duel in the middle of the room. It took her a moment to realize that the children were not boys, but two girls who could barely be older than eleven or twelve. Despite this, no one looked at them disapprovingly as they brawled, one with a spear and the other with a blade--rather, they looked on with good humor, perhaps even...pride. She remembered when she’d been caught trying to teach herself how to shoot a squire’s bow, the fuss that had come afterwards. How different everything was in this land!
Title: Re: The Golden Sun and the Silver Moon [m]
Post by: Reigning King on July 07, 2019, 04:20:51 PM

Princess Elia Martell often held court in the Water Gardens.  It had been Lady Mellario first, her elder brother’s wife, who had moved herself permanently to the Summer Palace.  She had done so while she had been pregnant with her youngest, Trystane.  It was almost as if she thought her husband might forget about her and the unborn child she carried in her belly if she sequestered herself in the breezy gardens.  Elia had thought it a kindness, to follow and watch after the tender-hearted woman.  They had spent each and every day together for years.  The Dornish Princess had been the only other person that Lady Mellario had trusted to handle the newborn from the moment he drew his first breath.  They would waste away the hours of the long days sharing stories from their girlhood, Mellario elaborating on all the ways that her native land of Norvos differed from the strange Westerosi customs she had married into.  She would speak at length about how much she missed her home country and how desperately she yearned to return to it.  When Doran finally came to collect Trystane, another arrangement for fostering prepared at some far-flung castle across the desert, he broke the last piece of Lady Mellario’s fragile heart. 

She was a woman destined for motherhood, designed by her forgein Norvosi Gods to suffer the burden of childbearing time and time again without losing a touch of her beauty or grace.  Wide of hip and full of bosom she had been a specimen of perfect human condition.  Four times she had been pregnant, and four times she had produced a healthy, heavy screaming baby.  They were all beautiful, nursed by the same formidable creature that had brought them into the world; Norvosi women didn’t believe in wet-nurses.  None had ever fallen ill beyond a common cough or a day spent too long in the hot sun.  There had been no still-borns, no miscarriages or bodily anomalies.  There had never been a time when Mellario had laid awake at night, praying that the Mother’s Mercy spare a fragile infant the tragedy of a short life.  Doran Martell had never been a picture of health, but each day his children grew taller and stronger, blooming like flowers in the sunshine to fill out the limits of the robust wellness their mother had gifted unto them.  She likely could have given her husband four more children, each as healthy and lovely as the next.  Mellario Martell had been given a great gift, one that Elia herself had knelt before a likeness of the Mother to pray for.  Unfortunately, fate provided her with a husband whose intentions kept her from fulfilling her destiny as completely as she could have.  When she had left for Norvos, her children had felt her absence keenly, but so too did Elia Martell.  Yet, each time she looked into the beaming face of one of her nephews or especially her darling niece, she could see in them, her friend smiling back at her. 

“Mors,” Princess Elia began in a gentle voice, laying a hand upon her nephew’s arm.  “She’s here.”

His yellow eyes had been watching after his cousins, Obara and Nymeria, as they spared with one another in the center of the Hall.  Holding his goblet of Dornish reds aloft, he took a lazy sip from the gold-plated cup before casting his gaze in the direction that his aunt gestured.  Spotting Princess Aeranys Targaryen from within the crowd that parted for her, escorted by Ser Devran, he patted away the redness from his lips with a napkin before rising from his seat.  “Excuse me,” he said politely as he started into the crowd.  His aunt watched after him with a curious expression upon her pretty, plain face.  Mors had been born in Dorne, like the rest of his siblings.  His seed however, had been conceived in Norvos when his father had been the same age as Mors was now.  Strangely enough, in spite of this connection, it was in her eldest that pieces of Lady Mellario were most difficult to find. 

“Princess Aeranys.” Prince Mors greeted politely.  Ser Devran paused and stepped aside, allowing the young woman he escorted to move ahead of him now as she met her intended within the halls that his ancestors had built for hers.  Her short cropped locks had been washed and quaffed, pulled to one side to conceal the bruising on her face with what little length remained.  Though, the moment called for a degree of propriety, a shallow bow or a polite word customary in this particular instance, Mors only stared at his bride in silence.  When she pulled her gaze from his, the air between them having turned stale and awkward, he closed the space that separated them and reached for her face.  Her reflexive response settled as his fingers found their purpose, curling about the lock of silver hair that fell over her brow and tucking it behind her ear to reveal the blue and yellow stain that marked the place where she had been struck. 

“You look rested.” Mors remarked of his betrothed.  Turning himself about so that stood beside her, he took her hand in his own and wrapped it around his bicep in the same fashion that must have started to feel familiar to the Targaryen Princess.  As they started towards the head table at which a place had been set for Aeranys alongside her husband-to-be, he leaned in close to her and whispered, “I have a surprise for you, after the celebration.”

Upon reaching the table, Mors shooed off the cup-bearer, pulling out the Princess’ chair and tucking her into her place himself before taking his own seat.  “Thank you for joining us, Princess Aeranys.” Elia said sweetly from the other side of Mors.  “You look wonderful.  I’m so glad you’ve chosen this gown.  It is one that I picked out myself for your collection.”  Mors leaned against the high wooden back of his chair, allowing the women he sat with to talk across him.  “I must apologize, we haven’t a Lady to wait on you, your Grace.” Pausing she pulled her eyes from the young woman she addressed to the children who played in the gardens beyond the grand open windows, from which a cool breeze flowed into the Hall.  “Things have been a little… a little chaotic as of late.” She spoke thoughtfully.  “Though, I would be happy to offer you a maiden from my own service until…” Elia Martell had meant to go on, but Mors was interrupting her. 

“That won’t be necessary.” He said sternly.  Aunt and nephew met eyes and exchanged silent words, passed over the small distance that separated them before Elia turned her gaze away again, lips pressed into a firm line. 

“Where is Arianne?” Elia asked, changing the subject and casting her gaze to her younger brother Oberyn beside her and then once more to her nephew, Mors.  “It wouldn’t do to start without her.”

“Just there, speaking with Drey.”  Mors answered.  While it might have seemed as though the heir to Dorne were merely observing the festivities in a passive interest, he had actually been watching after his little sister and her flirtatious exchange with her childhood friend.  She sat next to him, leaning upon one slender arm that lay crooked upon the surface of the table.  Curling one of her dark ringlets around a finger, she laughed too loudly at something funny (or perhaps, not funny at all) that the young man had said. 

“Andrey Dalt.” Elia Martell observed demurely from Mors’ side.  “That would be smart match.”

“As would be Deziel Dalt.  The elder brother desires her as well, though I think she favours the younger.” Mors observed in a voice that sounded too indifferent to belong to a brother discussing the matter of his little sisters’ heart.  “But Arianne is still too young for that.”  He added quickly, a touch of sterness giving hint to brotherly concern. 

“And shall we go strike the fear of death into the lad before he makes a meal of our Arianne, nephew?” Oberyn asked, leaning around his sister to chime in with a mischievous grin. 

“Tell me, uncle, when you look at my sister, does she look to be playing the part of hunted or hunter?” Mors asked casually.  At last he tore his gaze from girl grown to young woman over which he so often hovered.  She was a short girl.  Flat chested, stout of frame and plain of face -- but not for much longer.  With each passing year she grew more beautiful and more cunning.  She had never taken to training the way her cousins had, but she would blossom eventually, and become capable in different ways.  “Leave her to her games.” He said, taking his golden goblet in hand and bringing the chalice to his lips.  “I think she’s fond of him.” Dragging the tip of his tongue along the drip of Dornish reds left on his bottom lip, he turned again to his uncle.  “Speaking of daughters…” He prompted. 

“Ah, yes.  Of course!” Prince Oberyn Martell said loudly as he rose from his seat and stepped around the table.  “Girls!” He called over the cacophony of the crowded hall, clapping his hands together to get their attention.  At the sound, the two children sparing in the middle of the hall stayed their weapons.  Once they saw their sire beckoning them forth, they dropped their steel against the stone floor in a ringing clatter as they rushed towards the table at the head of the room.  Looking to each other as they hurried along, the quick dash turned into a foot race and once the young girls reached their destination they both skidded to a halt slamming into the table’s edge, sending the silverware rattling.  “These are my daughters, Obara and Nymeria.” Taking the girls by their shoulders he pulled them apart as they begun quibbling about who had won their most recent contest, facing them towards the Princess Aeranys and jostled to standing on either side of him.  “Girls…” The Red Viper warned, giving them each a gentle shake before they turned to the young woman they had been introduced to with pleasant expressions posed on their young faces. 

“It is a pleasure to meet you, my Lady.” Nymeria greeted as she dipped into a curtsey. 

“Welcome to Dorne.” Obara echoed after, her voice much deeper as she lowered herself into a shallow bow. 

“My youngest, Sarella, has already been put down by her keepers for the evening and Tyene is…” He hesitated for a moment, looking around the Hall for the small yellow-haired head he could usually pick out of a crowded room with ease. 

“Here, my Lord.”  Ser Devran answered from behind Mors.  Sure enough, Tyene had snuck up and positioned herself beside Ser Devran, hiding behind the backing of Princess Aeranys chair.

“There you are.” Oberyn smiled broadly at the sight of his stealthy little girl.  “Princess Aeranys, this is my third-born, Tyene.” He introduced. 

The tiny blonde-headed creature stepped forward, squeezing herself in between Mors and Aearnys chairs.  She faced the Princess first, fixing her with that wide, curious blue stare with which she regarded everything in her small world.  “Hullo,” she said in a quiet voice before turning to her cousin into whose lap she began to clumsily climb.  Mors set down his goblet of wine but made no move to assist the little girl as she clutched at his clothes and neck to pull herself onto him.  Sitting back onto the knees that rested against his legs she brought her elbows onto his chest and cupped her small hands around the side of his head as she leaned forward to whisper something into his ear.  When she leaned back and looked into his yellow eyes, he unfastened the top two buttons of his doublet and held it open.  Little pale hands plunged into the inner pockets to retrieve a small leather pouch.  Once she had it in hand she leapt from her cousin’s lap without another word and darted under the table, taking off again, once more lost within the masses.

“You two and your secrets.” Oberyn scolded playfully, shaking his head but smiling in the same cheerful way as Mors refastened his doublet.

“Oh, cousin!” Arianne appeared upon the scene as Mors finally lost sight of Tyene, who weaved through the throngs of Dornishmen like a shadow.  She was smiling and blushing as she clutched at Nymeria’s arm.  “I just had the most wonderful conversation with Drey!” She gushed.  At once, Obara rolled her eyes, scoffing as she turned away from the discussion at hand, marching off to find more enjoyable company. 

“What did he say?” Nymeria asked sweetly, eager to listen in spite of the fact that she was still too young to understand the nuances of the exchange. 

“Nothing worthwhile, I’m sure.” Oberyn interjected as he took his daughter by the shoulders and steered her away from her cousin. 

“Tell me later.” Nymeria hissed to Arianne under breath as she was guided in the direction her elder sister had gone off. 

“Do you think he’ll ask me for a dance tonight?” Arianne asked, leaning against the table as she talked conspiratorially with her elder brother.  “He said he would.”

For an instant, as he looked up at the little sister who beamed at him so brightly, that ghostly softness drifted across his features.  The sentimental expression flowed across his face with an uncharacteristic delicacy before ebbing once more, as though it had never been to begin with.  Taking his sister’s hand into his own he dropped a kiss upon it before telling her, “I’ll make sure he does.  Now take your seat so we can get started.”  His little sister beamed even more brightly at him as she took her hand back and obediently skipped around the table to find her seat on the other side of Princess Aeranys. 

Elia rose from her seated position and lifted her hands to silence the minstrels playing to the masses.  As they fell quiet, so too did the crowded Hall as Princess Elia Martell nodded to her nephew beside her and then took her seat once more.  Mors stood next.  As he reached for his gold-plated goblet and held it before him, those within the Hall took their own tankards in hand as well.  “My Lords, my Ladies, tonight we celebrate the first of many victories.  Though, we may face trying times in the coming war, it is you -- the people of Dorne -- from whom we draw our strength.  You are the beating heart of this Realm, and it is only together that we will defeat our enemies.  Only together, that we may forge new allies and build a better world for our children.  Tonight, we drink to my bride, Princess Aeranys Targaryen, the Dragon’s daughter.”  As he spoke, he looked down at the silver-haired young woman who sat beside him, offering her his open hand.  She set her dainty hand within his calloused one and rose from her seat so that she might stand beside him.  “Princess of Dorne.” He finished, his eyes still upon her.  Those sparkling yellow eyes remained fixed on her as the Hall took up the chant, raising their glasses in the name of the pale creature standing beside their Prince at the head of the room. 

“Princess of Dorne!” They called.  “To the Princess of Dorne!”

He pulled his gaze from hers only when he had brought the edge of his goblet to his lips, tipping it back and pouring the sweet wine down his throat.  By so doing, he then gave permission to the rest of the Hall who fell silent as they indulged in whatever nectar had been poured into their own cups.  Holding his empty goblet into the air he called, “now get drunk,” with a passive conviction that was returned with loud whooping and hollering, every Dornish man and woman in their midst overly eager for a night of revelry.  As the music pouring from the stage of minstrels picked back up and the noise of several separate conversations at once filled the Hall with disquiet, Mors lowered himself back into his seat alongside his future wife.  He did not fix her with his penetrating stare nor startle her further with sudden words.  He didn’t even bother to look or speak to her at all.  Instead, Mors looked on at the celebratory feast with his usual mask of calm contentment, still holding Princess Aeranys’ hand.  As they sat together, a small perimeter of tranquility amidst the debauchery, Mors dragged his thumb back and forth across her dainty pale knuckles.  He did not permit himself to observe how her hand fit best into his, when he held her fingers the way his mother had once held his own. 



(https://media.giphy.com/media/26wyAJEgQmkg761Ik/giphy.gif)

 

(https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/7lWl1TsyxynR4M33OIkexTbR0UCnA5haZhmT0AgHG0wnBAOtRLwqYJK8I0Zo9iaF4HTmstA3AnPIUzJ8PPa16T0qobrEfwxZVlCen7UKICjyOMhIEEijte0u_bvzKrlAvBxSpzJc)
Title: Re: The Golden Sun and the Silver Moon [m]
Post by: asterin on July 08, 2019, 09:43:50 PM
It did not take long for her host to realize her presence, and Aeranys politely pretended not to notice as Elia Martell alerted her nephew that his betrothed had arrived at the feast. Looking quite at ease, he rose from his seat and made his way to her to offer his greetings. “Milord,” she greeted him in turn, dipping into a demure curtsy. Stangely, he did not bow back or say anything else, only staring at her with that inscrutable expression on his face. It was only when she looked down and away from him that the statue moved, abruptly stepping closer to her with a hand outstretched. Startled but unwilling to let her poise crumble, she kept still as he tucked a certain lock of hair behind an ear.

For a moment, she half-expected him to undo the action upon noticing the mottled bruise underneath, for she had strategically styled her hair to cover it. Despite the short length of her hair, she knew how to be creative when it came to hiding welts and bruises--after all, she’d seen her mother do the same for years. Her hand quickly rose to her face, as if she meant to spare any souls that might be horrified to know that princesses bruised just as hideously as scullery maids did, but when his expression did not flinch, it dawned on her that he had known all along--or perhaps even wanted to see it. Meeting his pale yellow gaze, she let her hand fall from her cheek, leaving the bruise uncovered as she took the arm he offered her. His reasoning was unfathomable to her, but if that was what he wished, so be it.

She inclined his head towards him as he spoke to her, remarking that she looked well-rested. “Yes, I am most grateful to say that I was able to sleep well,” she replied, her tone carefully conversational. A part of her could not help but be slightly taken aback that he had noticed these things, especially when he’d hardly seen much of her while they were at sea. What was even more unexpected were the words that came afterward, whispered low: I have a surprise for you, after the celebration.

While most young ladies would have been nothing but delighted at such a sentiment coming from their betrotheds, no doubt imagining some sort of fancy trinket or romantic gesture, Aeranys instead felt something that tasted much like unease in the back of her throat at the notion of a ‘surprise'. In the brief span she’d been acquainted with her future husband, he’d been full of a great deal of surprises--most of them horrifying. Still, she smiled prettily, her expression almost bashful as she spoke. “You are too kind, milord,” she murmured as they made their way down to their seats next to their gracious host, Princess Elia.

The dark-haired woman immediately greeted her, her smile as warm as her voice. She was quick to draw her into conversation, and Aeranys could see that anyone would be hard-pressed to be uncomfortable in her sunny presence. “It is I who should be thanking you, Princess Elia,” she deflected, dipping her head in acknowledgment. “Thank you for this lovely feast, and for everything you’ve done in preparation for my arrival.” As Elia Martell went on to express her apologies for not having a lady-in-waiting ready for her, she shook her head delicately, readily assuaging her. In any other case, it would’ve been the norm for a bride to be bringing her own household along with her, trusted confidants and servants that would serve and protect her--but she had been smuggled out of the Red Keep with only a knight, without even a Septa or a handmaiden at her side. They were in the midst of a war, and Aeranys understood thoroughly that such a time called for exceptions and desperate measures. Indeed, had it not been for the dire circumstances, the only daughter of King Aerys Targaryen, second of his name, would have remained stubbornly unwed.

Once again, the fair-haired young woman pretended not to notice the exchange that went on between aunt and nephew, letting the words and sights wash away with the next wave of conversation. She kept quiet, sitting poised and reserved as the Martells spoke amongst themselves about Arianne, who she had just spotted in the crowd. Smart matches, comparing potential suitors… She knew it well. It was tiresome talk to her by now, but for the younger Dornish princess, this was only the beginning.

As Oberyn Martell summoned his daughters to present them to her, the princess took her cue to be present once more. The girls who were beckoned, however, weren’t girls in pretty silks and jewels, but the very two girls who had been sparring with weapons in the midst of the hall. They came rushing towards them, so engrossed in their competition that they jostled the table that they reached. As she watched them quarrel about who had been the fastest, the pale-eyed princess felt a pang of envy fill her up. It was a familiar feeling, no matter how dusty it had grown--the envy she’d feel whenever she saw squires and young lordlings sparring in the courtyard while she was stuck with needlepoint. Waving the thoughts away, she smiled at Obara and Nymeria as they offered her their pleasantries, the spark of longing in her eyes going unnoticed by the youngsters. “Thank you, it’s a pleasure to make your acquaintances as well,” she spoke back to them as courteously as she would to a pair of adult ladies.

The Red Viper’s third daughter, however, had apparently been hidden away closer than she would have ever expected--right behind her very own chair. She was a small girl, her hair markedly blonde and her eyes a pure blue. Despite her innocent, doll-like appearance, she could still see Oberyn Martell in her just as much as his other daughters as she uttered a short hello. “Hello,” she echoed back with a friendly smile, choosing to keep her words brief as the girl had already turned her attention to her elder cousin, climbing up into his lap to whisper into his ear. Whatever she had said to him, his response was to unbutton his doublet, holding still as she snatched out a small bag from the layers of his clothes--sweets, perhaps?

Something else had caught her attention, however: the accessories adorning his neck. A heavy brass key dangled from a chain, glinting dully in the light. Above it, something of an equally curious nature lay, a large sharp fang of reptilian origin. The Golden Fang, they called him…

She watched as Tyene scurried off into the crowd, her mysterious prize in hand, not missing how his gaze followed her tiny form. He must like children, she noted to herself--though, where that tendency had been on Greenstone, she could not say.

It was Arianne who rushed in next, looking positively giddy; clearly, her flirtations with the young man she’d fancied had gone well. “Do you think he’ll ask me for a dance tonight?” the girl asked her elder brother, glee sparkling in her brown eyes. “He said he would.” Despite herself, Aeranys felt herself sucking in a breath, bracing herself for what was most likely to come. And yet, in spite of the glimpse of protectiveness he’d displayed earlier, there was no such sternness she could divine in his eyes when he gazed up at his younger sister.

Instead, his attitude was almost indulgent as he pressed a kiss to her hand, his voice even. “’ll make sure he does,” he reassured her. “Now take your seat so we can get started.”

The Targaryen princess blinked, averting her gaze to hide her shock. She might have never had a younger sister of her own, but she was one--and she’d had two older brothers to boot. I’ll make sure he does? How could that be?

The year Aeranys had turned twelve, she and her family had been invited to Storm’s End to celebrate Robert Baratheon’s thirteenth nameday. Daeron had been too sick to travel, but she’d been excited for the trip, to leave the Crownlands for once. At the start of the banquet, Robert had asked for her first dance and she’d accepted without a second thought, for his parents were the generous hosts and it was Robert’s celebration. She’d enjoyed herself--the dance had been spirited, and the athletic boy had proved to be an adept dancer. When she returned to her seat to ask Rhaegar to dance, cheeks flushed and eyes bright, he’d rebuffed her coldly. She remembered how he’d ignored her, even during the trip back to King’s Landing, until she had tearfully begged for his forgiveness, promising him she’d always save her first dance for him. After he had reprimanded her for acting shamefully, he’d explained that he was doing this because he cared for her and wanted to protect her and their family. Such is the duty of an elder brother, he’d told her, gently wiping away her tears. So what was this…?

She did not have much time to wonder any further, however, as it seemed that it was time to give an official address to the people gathered in the hall. She squared her shoulders as the attention of the crowd focused in onto the Prince who was speaking and the foreign princess seated next to him. He spoke eloquently as any high lord would, trained to raise morale and garner solidarity from the people. “Tonight, we drink to my bride, Princess Aeranys Targaryen, the Dragon’s daughter,” his odd eyes were suddenly on her, his hand upturned for hers. Placing her hand in his, she rose, standing in her mother’s graceful and stately image as the roar of the crowd chanted back what was to be her new title. Princess of Dorne.

As the hall full of people dissolved back into chatter and feasting, the engaged pair seated themselves at the table. Surprisingly, however, his grip on her hand did not loosen. Instead, his thumb ran over her hand in an almost soothing rhythm. Not knowing what to make of it, her gaze flicked from their entwined fingers to his face, impassive and unmoving. After some hesitation, she finally allowed herself relax minutely into his touch. His hand did not leave hers until they began to eat, the atmosphere remaining calm and pleasant as Elia and Oberyn engaged her in light-hearted conversation. Though the young man she had seen on Greenstone had been nothing short of a nightmare, it would seem that Mors Nymeros Martell was no more than a human still. He clearly loved his family, and though they were naught but strangers, it appeared that he was trying to be kind to her. She was not so ungrateful that she did not know to be thankful for such kindness.

Likewise, the people of Dorne seemed all too eager to celebrate in her name, and even if it was only for the excuse she gave them to have another revelry, Aeranys was grateful. She gazed out at the feasting crowd, watching them eat and converse boisterously. In this land, she was a foreigner; her father was a man feared and reviled even by his own courtiers. Just like her father, she was a Targaryen, and Targaryens were not so easily loved by others. Rhaegar had made this observation first on a lazy afternoon once, as the three siblings lay in their quiet nest, removed from all else. The topic had drifted to Rhaegar’s then-betrothed, Cersei Lannister. He’d made some morose comment about how the golden-haired beauty seemed to have little interest in him, which had confounded her.

“No, I think she fancies you,” she’d insisted, “I’ve seen the way she looks at you.” Whenever she saw the young Lannister lioness look upon the Dragon Prince, her beautiful green eyes would dance in the lights.

Despite her insistence, her oldest brother had uttered a wry laugh, his hand leaving the lyre to loop her silver hair onto a finger. “She might fancy me, perhaps--but only a Targaryen, dear sister, can truly love a Targaryen,” he’d told her, his words falling into the air like the poetry he so often sang. “For only a dragon can weather dragonfire.”

How he felt about those sentiments now, Aeranys could not hazard a guess, but then again she could have never predicted that her dutiful brother would have run off with a woman. It would appear that in the span of their separation, his mind had become an enigma to her.

Her wandering contemplation came to a stop as she found a pair of eyes in the crowd--eyes that she knew. Sparkling, burning emeralds, glittering brightly in the light… But when she sought them out again, Aeranys realized her mistake. It was not Cersei Lannister who was there in the crowd, but another young woman. She had the same entrancing green eyes, but they were paired with sleek hair as black as a raven’s wing and a beauty that was distinctly Dornish--a far cry from the girl she knew. For a moment it almost seemed as if she was staring right back at her, but then it dawned upon her that it was not the Targaryen princess the green-eyed maiden was gazing at so intently, but the prince beside her. Feigning a polite cough, she turned her head to see that her betrothed was staring back, his golden eyes communicating thoughts unspoken but delivered all the same through their gazes. She watched mutely as the girl’s eyes flicked to the end of the hall, where corridors led off somewhere, then back to the Dornish prince. Then she stood from her seat, sending him one last look over a shoulder before she had slipped away, disappearing into the corridors.

It was not long before the Martell boy acted, excusing himself quietly from the table to melt into the crowd. She watched, now her turn to wear an impassive mask. He resurfaced for a brief moment as he reached the edge of the hall. There was no hesitation in his steps as he disappeared down the path that would lead him to where the girl was sure to be waiting. The princess sat in her seat like stone, her pale gaze leveled at the spot he’d faded from her view. Quietly, Aeranys counted the seconds, waiting until she could avert any suspicion. Then she left her seat, murmuring a palatable excuse to her hostess before subtly picking her way through the people to the corridor.

Just like the prince that had come before her, she gave no pause at the threshold--but unlike the two clandestine pair, perhaps, her heart did not pound loudly against her ribs, nor did her mind buzz; in fact, with every exacting step she took after them, her emotions seemed to grow that much more distant.
Title: Re: The Golden Sun and the Silver Moon [m]
Post by: Reigning King on July 13, 2019, 01:21:07 PM
Mors walked down the corridor, boots silent against the tiles arranged in an intricate mosaic beneath his feet.  His hands were hidden in the pockets of his doublet.  The finely crafted garment was a colourful dance of oranges and yellows, embroidered to reflect the rays of the setting sun.  The robes he wore around his shoulders, belted at his waist to fall in line with his golden doublet, were of a similar hue, flowing behind him as he rounded the corner at the end of the hall.  It was there that he found her waiting for him, leaning with her shoulder blades pressed into the stone walls.  There was intention in each step he took towards her, moving cautiously as though she were a fragile creature who might startle, in spite of that fact that she was in truth braver than most.  He stood before her, his hands in his pockets and his weight shifted onto his dominant foot, fixing her with his inscrutable stare. 

“She’s very pretty, isn’t she?” The raven-haired girl before him asked, eyes flicking down to her slippered feet shyly.  Mors just looked on at her, almost as though she hadn’t spoken at all.  “I mean, of course she is.” She continued, finding his gaze again.  “You wouldn’t believe some of the jealous things I’ve heard men say tonight about you and your bride.” She had played this game with him many times before.  She wanted to speak with him, to hear his voice, and he knew it.  The rules of engagement were simple, written all over the calm, smug expression upon his face.  “Make me,” it said. 

“How fares your courtship?” She prodded.  “Has she charmed you?” Once again, Mors’ closed lips stayed any words that might have been clamouring to banter in return from behind locked teeth.  “I had heard that the Dragon’s Daughter was a bit of a bore.” Her eyes glimmered like emeralds in the glow of the dimly burning sconce overhead, mischief touching upon her features. 

“What are you doing, Vellysa?” Mors finally asked. 

“I could ask you the same thing.” She countered defiantly. 

“You are in pain.” He observed. 

“Of course, I am!” Vellysa insisted, straightening herself from where she had been leaning.  Her hands were balled into fists at her sides, her voice raised marginally.  When she was met with that same gentle smugness upon his handsome face she bit back against the harsh words crawling spitefully up her throat.  “I told you so,” it taunted her.  Pausing, she cleared her throat and uncurled her claws to smooth her silky skirts.  “I just want…” She started. 

“It doesn’t matter what you want.” The heir to Dorne interrupted, cutting her off.  He paused before adding, “it doesn’t matter what I want,” though in a quieter voice.  Vellysa reached for him then, her hands coming up to clutch at his robes but he caught her by the wrists.  With a gentle shove he pushed her away from him, forcing her to stumble backwards against the wall.  Once more his hands slipped into his pockets, casual and composed, his expression once more unreadable. 

“You are in pain.” Mors started again, repeating his observation.  “I did not want this for you, and I wish I could relieve you of your suffering, but I can’t.” Even though he had pushed her away from him, in both the literal and metaphorical sense, he stepped towards her now.  “You should speak with my aunt.”  Though curious, the words were tender ones to Vellysa’s trained ears.  He leaned towards her and at last he was close to her in the way she always remembered him, the way he still came to her in her dreams.  She held her breath, afraid to break the spell as his cheek brushed against hers and he laid a small kiss upon the sharp bone beneath her green gaze.  She closed her eyes, lashes fluttering against his forehead as he pulled away from her and said, “You look beautiful.”

It was only with lovely words that Mors ever left his Paramour, Vellysa.
Title: Re: The Golden Sun and the Silver Moon [m]
Post by: asterin on July 14, 2019, 07:16:18 AM
Quietly, she stepped deeper into the hallway, her movements slow and steady. Perhaps it shouldn’t have been surprising that she found stealth come easily: from a young age she’d been taught to be graceful, to move light as a feather grazing over parchment, her presence meant to be seen and not heard. All that was important for her to do now was not be seen. The princess crept forward until she could hear the distant sound of murmurs, echoing down along the corridor, then closer and closer, so that she could make out the words. “...fares your courtship? Has she charmed you?” the female voice came. Carefully, she peeked around the corner, drawing back immediately as she caught sight of the two.

I had heard that the Dragon’s Daughter was a bit of a bore,” she heard the green-eyed beauty say. She almost smiled humorlessly to herself. So have I, she thought, dismissing the taunting twist in the girl’s tone. Despite the situation, Aeranys felt nothing she should have--there was no rage, no thoughts of fire and blood, no sharp stab of betrayal, or even a pinch of jealousy. There was only a slight settling of emotion, a gentle sort of disappointment, a fulfilment of a deep down expectation. Her intended was a young man past his majority, and a prince at that. Of course he had a lover. She would have been a naive fool to expect otherwise; she knew that she did not live in a song--or at least, not a happy one. There would be no pledges of undying eternal love or sweeping romance here, nor did she think there would be some blissful marriage waiting ahead. Dragons were not so easily loved, and to the princess, it seemed that her family was nothing less than cursed in matters of the heart and the marriage bed.

Even when it came to Vellysa, as the prince called her, she could not summon any animosity. Instead, as the girl’s voice cracked out in indignant response to the prince’s placid observation that she seemed to be in pain, longing in the soft words that came afterward, she felt sorry for the lovely creature. This engagement had encroached on her suddenly, but that went equally for the Dornish prince and whoever might have loved him. Though it was by death, not marriage, she knew what it was like to have someone precious taken away. As the dark-haired girl leaned towards the prince, she turned away, no longer willing to intrude on their privacy. Let them have their stolen moment, she thought.

Accustomed to swallowing indignities with resigned grace, she traced her steps back up the corridor and down a different hall, one Elia had promised would lead to a washroom. Indeed, once she went through a set of doors, she was greeted with a polished silver mirror and a trickling fountain. She regarded herself briefly, finding her mother’s weary eyes looking back at her from her reflection. Aeranys knew she would never be first in her husband’s heart, or even in his desires, but matrimony had little to do with that. Regardless, she repeated to herself in her head, she would be a dutiful wife, a loving mother, and a gracious queen, just as her mother before her.

Turning her attention to the excuse she had made for herself, she plucked the pins from her hair, letting the half undone arrangement come completely loose. Brushing her fingers through it, she braided the short length away from her face before pinning it into place--a different hairstyle not so concerned with the bruises marring her pale skin. Satisfied, she pulled herself up to her full height, steeling herself to put on her public face once more.

When she left the washroom, she heard no tell-tale echoed murmurs--it seemed that their clandestine meeting was over for the time. As she strode out to the main hall, however, her gaze fell to the corridor opposite to the one she had come from, which housed a bubbling fountain. Someone was seated at the far end of it, and it did not take long for her to recognize the raven hair and the green gown that would match emerald eyes. The princess found herself making her way to the lonesome figure--out of misguided sympathy or masochistic curiosity, she could not quite tell. Perhaps it was in her nature to want to know too much for her own good, having been a precocious child, as youngest children always were, knowing too much too soon. 

Once she had stepped far enough into the clearing, she pretended to give a start, her hands rising apologetically. “Oh, pardon me,” she apologized to the girl, more genuinely than not. “I didn’t mean to disturb you--it seems I’ve wandered off in the wrong direction.” She admired the fountain, decorated lavishly and full of color, before turning to Vellysa with a gentle smile. “A fortunate mistake, perhaps. What a beautiful fountain.”
Title: Re: The Golden Sun and the Silver Moon [m]
Post by: Reigning King on July 14, 2019, 12:40:29 PM
Vellysa Sand sat at the edge of a fountain crafted from white marble.  She had never cared for this particular work of sculpture.  There were countless fountains and pools within the Water Gardens, each as stunning and serene as the last.  The sweet-tempered young woman had been looking for a quiet place to sit with her thoughts.  While there was no shortage of locales ideal for such introspective contemplation within the walls of the Garden Palace, she found herself drawn to this place in particular as she had been many times over the past several weeks.  Green eyes watched the dim light of the corridor dance in the rippling water, obscuring the likeness of a dragon chasing the setting sun across the sky.  Uncrossing her legs, she leaned forward and moved her fingertips through the clear, cool pool, nails tracing the artwork at a distance. 

“Oh, pardon me.” Came a voice from behind her.  Turning, Vellysa’s emerald gaze fell on the one individual who had been occupying her thoughts so obsessively as of late.  Rising at once from the lip of the fountain where she had been perched, the young Dornish woman straightened her skirts and curtsied to the Princess who had stumbled upon her. 


“Your presence could never be a disturbance, my Lady.” She assured the Targaryen daughter as she righted herself and folded her hands before her, mirroring the demure posture of the young woman who addressed her so politely. 

“A fortunate mistake, perhaps.” Princess Aeranys mused as she gazed at the fountain behind Vellysa.  “What a beautiful fountain.”

“It is yours, my Lady.” The bastard-born beauty informed her.  When she was met with a curious asking expression, she gestured to the inner pool and the dragons painted upon the pristine white stone.  “There are a few places like this one throughout the Water Gardens.  They were left by Prince Maron Martell, reminders for his wife Princess Daenarys, a Targaryen like yourself.”  When the Dragon’s Daughter cast her violet gaze to Vellysa once more, she averted her own pointed stare elsewhere. 

“Vellysa Sand, my Lady.” She introduced herself, dropping once more into a quick curtsey.  “I serve Princess Elia, who keeps the Water Gardens.  I know the intent of the work but I’m afraid I could not tell you what it says.” Vellysa explained.

”Se mele vēzos sīmonagon se ropagon iemnȳ se zaldrīzes's prūmia…”

The words were written in shimmering lettering, following the path of the painted dragon in a sweeping script that called to mind images of a flame in the wind.  It was a different phrase on each fountain.  Elia told her that when you strung the phrases together, it almost sounded like a poem.  Unlike her mistress, she had never been taught to read High Valyrian, and so the words remained a mystery.  She had made a game out of finding them all nevertheless, another numbing task to pass the hours of the long days.  Vellysa paused for a moment before making the calculating decision to reveal as much to the royalty before her.  She had never had a brush with the monarchy before, but she was quickly realizing that Princess Aeranys was a young woman like any other, not so unlike herself in fact. 

With a warm smile upon her full lips she elaborated, saying, “when you find one, it’s almost like you’ve found a letter left behind to a lover.”  The two women stood together in silence for a moment, admiring the fountain, the only sound between them the trickling of the clear water.  Working up the courage, Vellysa inched towards the silver-haired beauty beside her, searching for her purple gaze. 

“My Lady, may I offer you a word in advice?” Vellysa asked carefully, allowing a tremble to touch upon the bottom lip that curled against a quivering chin.  “Obey him, completely.” She said.  As she spoke, tears misted her eyes and fear for another gentle maiden broken beneath his heel clutched at her throat, sending shivers down her spine.  “Prince Mors is not like his ancestor, Prince Maron.” When at last the storm clouds in her eyes had gathered enough to send a drop of rain spilling down her cheek, she looked away.  “Apologies, my Lady.” She said in a voice that made an attempt at strength, dragging shaking fingers across her face to hide her shame. 

“Just down this hall and to your left.” Vellysa offered helpfully, an awkward and melancholy smirk accompanying the direction as she gestured down the dimly lit corridor.  “That will take you back to the celebration.  I’m sure you are being missed, but I’m afraid I must excuse myself.” She sniffled against the words as she stepped away from the sweet girl who had stumbled upon her, concern and empathy painted in genuine strokes across her pretty face.  “It was a pleasure to meet you, Princess Aeranys.” Offering her one final curtsey, she made a swift departure, flying down the halls in the opposite direction in which she had advised the silver-haired young woman she had left in her wake.  Vellysa was not bound for the feast, however.  She had other matters to attend instead.  After a time, her woeful expression fell away and her tears dried up.  She patted at her face to bring down the swelling and cleared her throat of the sorrow she had gagged herself with.  Throwing her long locks over her shoulder, she smiled to herself as she tucked her hair behind her ears and away from her face, the way Mors always liked it. 

The last time a Targaryen Princess had been brought to Dorne to marry a Prince, the union had been one of truest love.  Unlike Prince Maron Martell, Prince Mors would not be building palaces and erecting statues or fountains in the name of his foreign Targaryen bride.  Prince Mors would not love her like that.  Prince Mors would not love her at all.  Vellysa would make sure of it.

As Princess Aeranys Targaryen stepped back into the grand hall of the Water Gardens, surrounded once more by the cacophony of celebration, she found herself quickly in close company.  Ser Devran stood just behind her, having followed her quietly for a short time after finding her in the corridor, returning to the feast.  She trod upon the same path he had walked only moments ago in her wake, his own steps conveniently ill-timed to hers.  He could tell that she sensed him as he came up behind her, the tension in her shoulders perceivable to his trained eye.  She was a wide-eyed girl, but those amethyst jewels were more mindful than innocent.

“Princess Aeranys.” Ser Devran said in polite greeting.  “I was to collect you, but I must have just missed you.” Stepping ahead of her and extending a guiding arm in the direction of the head table and her own empty seat he offered her an encouraging, “please.” 

It was not only Princess Aeranys’ chair which sat empty and in wait of an occupant, but also that of Prince Mors.  As Ser Devran tucked the young woman into her place, looking down at the top of her silver head, the girl next to her bubbled over with excitement.  “He’s doing it, he’s doing it…” She blathered as Ser Devran stepped back and took his station, poised and at ease but ever at the ready not but a few steps away from his liege’s precious betrothed. 

Sure enough, at the far end of the Hall, Prince Mors Martell sat alongside the young man with whom his younger sister had been flirting with earlier in the evening.  The Dornish Prince had his back turned to the women who looked on at them, one with a much keener interest invested in the interaction than the other.  Nevertheless his mannerisms seemed at least less intimidating than usual, as the Dalt boy maintained a pleasant expression instead of wilting or shrinking the way most young men did around Mors.  With a pat on the shoulder, both dark-haired Dornishmen began weaving their way through the crowd towards the head table, though as they drew nearer, Prince Mors fell back.  Princess Arianne prattled in the ear of Princess Aeranys, saying something that Ser Devran did not care to notice.  The intention was poorly disguised; looking distracted when the boy approached so as not to appear too orchestrated, which of course only served to make it seem more so. 

“Princess Aeranys, it is a privilege to meet you.  I hope you feel very welcome in Dorne.” The young man greet politely after bowing to both women.  “Princess Arianne, I was hoping you would do me the honour of…” As he spoke, he extended his hand to the Dornish Princess before him who was hard to see as anything else than the willful little girl he had worshipped as a little boy. 

“Yes!” Arianne squealed at once, setting her hand into his in a way that seemed more as if she were the one doing the taking.  “Yes, I would love to.” She tugged him towards the center of the Hall where sparring had given way to dancing.  Mors watched the young couple hurry past him, hands in his pockets and posture passive.  He had that look on his face that he sometimes got as he watched after them.  To Ser Devran, he thought it was sort of expression a man must make when he’s alone in the desert and feels a cool breeze.  It was the closest he ever came to looking happy without spilling blood. 

“Doesn’t she look happy?” The Golden Fang asked of his intended as he took his seat beside hers.  He never smiled when he talked about his sister or younger brothers.   Perhaps he did so when he was alone, not a soul to see, when he thought to himself in the quiet of the night.  Ser Devran knew that there was only one occasion upon which Mors ever smiled.  This did not mean that he did not love his sister.  In fact, though he would never admit it out loud, the Knight knew that Mors loved her the most.  There were times when Devran had wondered at his friend and wondered if perhaps the thing Mors loved most in this world, was killing -- the only thing that ever made him smile. 

“I want you to be happy.” Prince Mors told her next, leaning towards her and fixing her with that impossible, inscrutable stare of his.   He didn’t seem to realize the way people cowered and squirmed beneath it, as though they were looking into the face of something not altogether human.  Or perhaps he did, and he simply preferred it when they suffered in spite of the fact that he possessed the ability to provide existential relief.  Ser Devran had seen it himself, after all.  So few had seen the flicker of humanity burning low and quiet within Mors Martell, the Golden Fang.  In time, the Targaryen girl would come to understand her husband.  It was not the absence of love, merely love of a different kind.  It was a privilege to be loved by Prince Mors Martell, and sometimes, as Ser Devran knew, a burden as well.
Title: Re: The Golden Sun and the Silver Moon [m]
Post by: asterin on July 15, 2019, 02:13:38 PM
The pale-haired young woman bent over the water, her eyes seeking out the painted dragons and suns ringing the inner pool of the fountain that the girl had gestured to. “Made for a Targaryen, perhaps,” she acknowledged, turning back to the girl with a shake of the head. “But not made for all Targaryens. It belongs to Dorne before it belongs to me, I would think.” Her expression turned kind, warmer than the distant polite quirk of the lips she usually wore. “And so I daresay it is yours, just as you might say it is mine, Lady…?” she prompted, causing the girl to dip into a pretty curtsy and introduce herself. Vellysa Sand, in service to Princess Elia, it seemed. “It’s lovely to meet you,” she said, not a drop of vitriol in her tone.

Her amicable attitude was hardly false in nature; she wanted to be kind to the girl who loved her future husband. Her father had never been particularly faithful to her mother--that much, she’d known from a young age. Too precocious, too perceptive, Aeranys had watched as his attentions roamed from woman to woman in the court, watched as her mother never said a word on the matter, remaining dignified in her silence. Her mother had never treated his mistresses unkindly, even in the face of open scandal. The queen had only ever deigned to act when it came to the women who served as her ladies-in-waiting, who held a special place in her heart. Facing down the king's anger without a flinch, she’d sent them away one by one when his gaze fell to them. While the court might have whispered every time a lady disappeared from Queen Rhaella’s service, the young princess had seen hidden goodwill in her mother’s actions.

Her gaze was almost gentle as she regarded the green-eyed girl, whose emerald eyes no longer reminded her of Cersei, but the Lannister beauty who had come before. No, Aeranys would not blame or vilify her, nor would she rage or plead tearfully with her intended. Instead, she took in the girl’s words as if she was any other courtier, nodding along attentively as she pointed out the flowing golden words that accompanied the dragons. 

”Se mele vēzos sīmonagon se ropagon iemnȳ se zaldrīzes's prūmia,” she read aloud the script that Vellysa could not. The Targaryen princess understood the meaning, of course, but she was not cruel enough to translate the High Valyrian to the Common Tongue least the sentiments about red suns and dragons pain her. “A beautiful thought,” she agreed, and the two young women, lover and soon-to-be-wife of the same prince, stood together in the peaceful quiet. Indeed, the words were beautiful--had Prince Maron Martell been expressing his hope to remain forever within his beloved dragon princess’ heart, constant and sure as the sun rose and set? Or was he carving into stone eternal, the moment they’d fallen in love? She could not say; such was the nature of poetry. Beautiful, yes, like a song.

It was the dark-haired girl that broke the silence first with a question. “My Lady, may I offer you a word in advice?” she asked, a quiver in her voice.

“I would be grateful to hear it,” Aeranys responded, pretending not to notice the way her green eyes were growing tearful.

“Obey him, completely.”

Slightly taken aback at the abruptness of it, the princess blinked mutely--but as Vellysa went on to explain herself, her pretty gem-like eyes filling more and more with tears, her surprise turned swiftly into concern. She seemed...afraid. Why? As Vellysa turned away to hide her tears, a familiar sense of dread crept over her, and Aeranys could not help but search the curve of her face and posture to see if there were any telltale signs of violence. “No, please don’t apologize,” she murmured, briefly placing a cautious hand on her trembling shoulder, the touch featherlight lest it be unwanted. But it seemed that the dark-haired girl no longer wished to be in the company of the princess who had ruined her happiness. Aeranys nodded back quietly, watching as Vellysa excused herself after a hasty curtsy. When she was gone, she swallowed the sighs the threatened to well up from within. The green-eyed beauty was right--she would be missed if she wasn’t to return to the main hall. Casting one more look at the fountain, she turned to make her way back to the banquet.

She was not surprised that Ser Devran had been sent to track her down, but fortunately enough it appeared that no one was suspecting that the princess had been doing anything else but fiddling with her hair. Aeranys nodded her thanks as the knight seated her, looking completely composed, unlike the young girl next to her who looked as if she might explode from sheer anticipation. The Dornish Prince was still missing from his seat, but once the princess followed Arianne’s line of sight, she soon caught sight of Mors Martell speaking with the lad his younger sister had been trading flirtations with earlier. Arianne grasped her hand again, seemingly more out of instinct than intention, leaning in to whisper in her ear. “He’s coming this way, he’s going to ask me to dance!” she bubbled enthusiastically, squeezing her hand tight in excitement. Aeranys had little time to say anything before the boy approached and greeted the two princesses courteously.

“Thank you, the pleasure is mine,” she acknowledged the young lad, though she knew their exchange was little more than a formality before the real reason he’d approached the table was to be uttered. Before the word ‘dance’ could even be spoken, Arianne practically leapt up to accept, her elation palpable as she rushed to the center of the floor with the boy in tow. Her lips tugged into a quick, amused smile at her energy, but her attention was to be occupied once more as her betrothed made his way back to his seat. He said nothing of her absence, though she had little doubt that it had been him, not his aunt, who had sent Ser Devran to find her.

“Doesn’t she look happy?” he remarked of his sister, and her lilac gaze went back to the figure of the young Dornish princess, her silken skirts twirling joyously as she danced with the boy she had so fancied.

“She does, milord,” the princess answered politely, though ‘happy’ was almost an underwhelming word compared to the way Arianne’s eyes glowed, a smile near splitting her face into two.

Then his eyes were no longer on his sister, but on her, his oddly colored gaze boring into her with the white-hot intensity of the sun. “I want you to be happy,” he told her, his body shifting slightly towards her. She turned to him and met his intense gaze, her movements obediently mirroring that of the prince.

“Do I not look happy to you, milord?” Aeranys returned, her voice and expression far too benign for it to take on a barbed edge. “You and your family have been most kind and welcoming to me since my arrival,” she went on, nothing but sincerity in her tone. “I would not ask for more, other than to wish for you what you have wished for me--that you be happy, milord.” She wasn’t lying to the young man--misdirecting, perhaps, but not lying. Truly, his family had been nothing but gracious and eager to make her feel at home; as for her betrothed, he’d shown no trace of his temper since they’d left the sea, and she’d seen his efforts to be attentive. It was more than the young woman could have dared to expect. What more could she ask for? To be happy? To be loved? Despite having dined off of gold, silver, and crystal her whole life, the princess knew better than to reach for fanciful dreams. One was only met with tragedy if they dreamt of plucking the sun and stars from the sky.

No, she knew her place. Vellysa’s advice had been an unnecessary one, truthfully said. To obey completely--that had been the mold she’d been destined to fit since she’d been born. As a princess, as a daughter, as a wife, her place in life was to obey, to tend to her duties without a complaint. She hid a bitter smile. In that manner, she supposed that even Mors Martell, unreadable and mysterious, did not differ so much from all the other men in the world. Once again, there was no shock, no disappointment--just another tired expectation fulfilled. 
Title: Re: The Golden Sun and the Silver Moon [m]
Post by: Reigning King on November 11, 2019, 06:52:53 PM

“No.”

The words fell from his full lips, curt and cold.  “You don’t.” The thoughtful expression he wore upon his boyish face, yellow eyes still staring, unblinking at the woman before him, remained ever unchanging.   He permitted that familiar uncomfortable silence to rise between them again, but this time he lingered in it, letting it turn from stale to sour.  When finally the Princess Aeranys pulled her gaze from his, he returned his own line of sight to the festivities before them.  They did not rise from their decorous, high back chairs until the evening had drawn to a close.  Nor did they pass any further words between them. 

As the High Lords and Ladies of Dorne made their escape from the cool and breezy Water Gardens into the more forgiving night air rolling across Sunspear from the sea, many took the opportunity to introduce themselves more formally to the Targaryen bride-to-be.  Mors stood alongside Princess Aeranys as men and women clad in silks and jewels approached the head table in order to exchange polite words with the future Princess of Dorne.  Among them were those Lords of most import, including Lords Vorian Dayne and Trebor Jordayne whose forces had assisted in her liberation from Greenstone.  Mors remained silent and disinterested for the most part, which suited the High Lords of Dorne just fine.  They had become accustomed to the quirks of this particular Prince over the years.  He stirred only once, for the final nobleman in the queue of aristocrats, the only one whose opinion Mors actually cared to know.  He stepped forward, looking nothing like the bloodsoaked soldier who had joined his liege upon the stony shores to face off against the Estermont combatants.  He wore a tunic of dark purple linen, belted at the waist by a braided, black rope.  Silver hair, a muddier hue than that of the Princess’, was combed straight, framing his face and making the black streak that interrupted the unusual colour appear all the more so.  He gave the young Prince only a passing glance and kept his attention focused keenly on the Targaryen Princess to whom he squared his shoulders.  Holding out a calloused hand for hers, he bowed to lay a kiss upon the back of her palm before enveloping her digits with both of his own. 

“Princess Aeranys.  It is good to meet you at last.”  Lord Gerold said politely.  Mors did not miss the way that his betrothed flicked her gaze down to the enigmatic Lord’s hands.  He was missing his left pinky finger and had never bothered to disguise the missing extremity with gloves or false digits.  “We have always wondered at what sort of woman our young Prince might find himself bound to.”  Lifting his violet gaze from the Princess, his eyes found Mors’ yellow ones.  “I suppose Arthur is the winner on the subject of that little wager.”

“That remains to be seen.”  Mors retorted, a touch of playfulness bleeding into his usually serious tone. 

“Is that so?” He inquired rhetorically, quirking an eyebrow as he slid his gaze back to the lovely silver haired creature before him.  While both bore the colouring attributed to their individual Valyrian descent, Lord Gerold’s angry eyes and bird-like nose stood in stark contrast to the more comely features of the Targaryen family reflected in Princess Aeranys and her elder brother Rhaegar.  “That is wise, my Lady.  A man like our Mors should be kept on his toes, never sure what manner of creation he has chosen to take to his bed.”

“Behave, Gerold.” The Prince cautioned. 

“Can you believe there was once a time when I was the one doing the scolding?”  The question was directed at Princess Aeranys but the curious Lord’s attention turned quickly from the young woman before him to his friend who stood at her side.  “Do tell me when you have reached a final judgement about your betrothed.  Until then, I’ll hold steadfast onto my gold-dragons.”

Stepping back from the young couple, Lord Gerold Dayne of High Hermitage bowed to Princess Aeranys one final time.  “I wish you sweet dreams tonight, Princess Aeranys.  I’m sure we will see much of each other in the coming days — and in the coming years as well.  That is, of course, if we should all survive to see the end of your brother’s war.”  It was with those words that Lord Gerold took his leave with the other gentlemen and gentlewomen of the Dornish court. 

As the cacophony of celebration dimmed to the hush of parting whispers, Mors slipped his hand into Aeranys’, giving her arm a slight tug.  “Come.” He instructed in a mild tone.  “We retire to Sunspear.  My family will see us on the morrow.” 

They slipped away from the Water Gardens, exiting through a set of doors along the side of the main hall as to avoid any further delay from well-intentioned guests.  Weaving their way through the various fountains and flowerbeds, they found themselves walking along the path by which Princess Aeranys had travelled from Sunspear in a litter only hours ago.  Trailing behind them at a respectable distance, Ser Devran followed.  They walked side by side under a full moon and peaceful sky, their pace leisurely, Princess Aeranys’ hand curled around Prince Mors’ arm as always.  For a time, they continued along in silence, only the distant noises from the babbling fountains and her neighbouring garden crickets offering subtle symphony to ease the suffocating quiet.   

“Are you curious?” He asked her suddenly.  His deep voice was warmer than usual, though its sharpness cut through the stillness of the night like a knife nevertheless.  At her asking expression he continued saying, “the wager Gerold spoke of.  Would you like to know what it was?”

He waited for her to respond before divulging further.  The words she gave him in return were polite and passive as he had expected.  “As a boy, I was fostered at Starfall.  I spent a lot of time with Lord Gerold and his nephew Ser Arthur, whom I understand you are well acquainted with.”  Pausing, he took a quiet inventory of her reaction before continuing.  “Both had very different ideas about what sort of man I would become, and consequently, very different ideas about what sort of woman I would end up with.”  Mors used this technique often.  It was difficult for the young Dornishman to talk about himself openly, but the task was made easier when the subject matter was what other people thought of him.  The opinions of others had always been as clear as a summer sky to the sometimes troubled Prince, and though he pretended otherwise, sometimes he allowed himself to care what some might think of him.  “Arthur liked to paint me as the hero in every story, even when I didn’t deserve it.  So, of course, he used to say that I would be given a kind and good noblewoman for wife, maybe an heiress from across the narrow sea like my father, or a Princess like his father before him.”  Mors’ grandmother had been the Princess of Dorne and surprised most — except those who truly knew her — when she had taken a handsome but common Sandy Dornishman for a husband.  “Gerold, on the other hand, would insist that I would choose a very different sort of woman.  Someone as… indelicate as myself.”  He hesitated, selecting the right word with careful consideration.  “‘Monsters don’t make mothers of maidens…’ he would say.  ‘Only meals.’  Eventually, they settled the dispute by arranging a proper wager, shaking hands on the matter and all.”  They passed into the walls of Sunspear, weaving through the corridors down a decidedly different path than that which would take them to the Tower of the Sun where both of their chambers resided.  “I haven’t decided who has won yet.”  Pausing, he found her eyes beneath the dim glow of the decorative, gold candelabras which lined the stone halls of the palace.  “Maybe both.”

They stopped at the end of a long stretch of chambers, halting before a worn wooden door.  Ser Devran lingered a ways down, hidden in the shadow between two distant light fixtures.  You would not notice him if you did not know to look for him.  “Your surprise is behind this door.  Ser Devran will escort you back to your rooms when you are finished.  You are welcome to come back as often as you like.”  As he spoke, his hand came to find hers where it lay atop his upper arm.  With some effort, the expression on Prince Mors’ face softened, if only marginally.  He had given her this moment of tenderness, a gentle memory to cling to in place of a nightmare, a courtesy to which very few were privy.  “Don’t be too long.”  The strong fingers of his olive hued hand clutched at hers in a measured manner, though only to uncurl her arm from around his before dropping it to her side gracelessly. 

“Goodnight, Princess.”  He had stepped around her and marched off down the dark corridor before the last word had finished falling from his lips.  In his place, Ser Devran stepped forward from the shadows, standing now beneath the dim glow of golden flame. 

Finding her eyes, he uttered the quiet but stern reminder of, “don’t be too long.”


(https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/7lWl1TsyxynR4M33OIkexTbR0UCnA5haZhmT0AgHG0wnBAOtRLwqYJK8I0Zo9iaF4HTmstA3AnPIUzJ8PPa16T0qobrEfwxZVlCen7UKICjyOMhIEEijte0u_bvzKrlAvBxSpzJc)


“Again.” Mors ordered. 

The sharp voice of the young Dornish Prince cracked across the training sands of the palace grounds like a whip.  It touched upon the ears of those in the nearby armoury to the adjacent yet further stables, all the way to the livestock pens beyond.  His hair was slicked back by the same dampness which covered the front of his loose tunic and stained the underside of his arms.  They had been at it for hours and the sun had decided to be especially unforgiving today.  Evidence of such excruciating circumstances was made evident by the sweat drenched, red faced little girls who stood, but only just barely, swaying before their cousin, exhausted from their long morning.  One held two long-blade daggers, one in each hand, lowered to the ground as she lost the strength in her knobby knees.  The other held fast to a spear, her opposite shoulder slouching with the weight of the shield held in the same hand.   The elder of the two was doing her best to hide the signs of fatigue from her tutor, whose favour she had gained temporarily in light of the tongue-lashing he was giving her younger sister. 

“Nym, get up!” Mors barked, louder this time.  He took one step towards her, kicking sand in her direction.  If he had to take another, she would be sorry for it.  After only another single moment of hesitation, the small girl began to rise from where she had collapsed onto the ground.  Angry tears streaked the sand that dusted her pretty face as she breathed deeply and found her unstable footing beneath her.  Raising her arms and weapons along with them, she faced her cousin with all the ferocity one might expect from a daughter of the Red Viper. 

“Again.” Mors ordered, more lowly this time. 

The two girls rushed in on him at once.  He did not use his blunted axe today but instead two short training staffs, both standing no higher than his waist.  They used their steel and had only one goal; make their cousin bleed.  They were children still and not strong enough, not even together, to be of any real danger to their cousin.  In time however, Mors could only hope that they would be formidable enough to end him in an instant if they should desire it, or anyone else for that matter.  But first, he would have to teach them practical techniques and then he would have to teach them the discipline they would need to practice that technique over and over again until it became like a second-nature; woven into the sinews of their muscle; written in the scars that lined their delicate flesh.  For now, it was Mors who put the girls into the dirt.  Nymeria, with a cruel blow to the back of the legs that sent her collapsing onto her knees and crying out, choked by tears as she fell onto her stomach.  Obara, with a sharp spin and a hard boot to the chest that took her feet out from under her and sent her landing hard on her back, gasping for air desperately as she rolled onto her hands and knees and began to crawl. 

“You were supposed to work together.”  Mors scolded sternly as he began to pace around the young girls who lay weeping and choking on the training sands.  “How many times are you going to make me repeat myself…?”  A flash of colour beyond the muted greys and browns of the grounds caught his eye and he lifted his gaze to see Ser Devran standing on the edge of the training arena with Princess Aeranys at his side.  Nodding in their direction he handed the wooden training staff he carried in each hand to Master Toyne.  “Five more times, then they may rest in the shade.” He instructed Sunspear’s Master at Arms. 

“Five?” Nymeria demanded incredulously, tears streaming freely down her cheeks.  “Mors, please…” She pleaded.  He took a threatening step towards her and as she flinched away from him, scrambling backwards and rolling onto her feet, Mors leaned forward to meet her eye line. 

“Ten.” He corrected himself, coolly.  Nymeria lingered in her self pity, but only for a moment.  As she wiped away her tears and moved to her sister, aiding the young girl to her feet, Mors turned away from his cousins unflinchingly.  “Ten more times.” He repeated to Master Toyne.  “And don’t go easy on them.  I will know if you do.” 

“Of course.” Master Toyne answered.  Turning to the approaching Princess, he gave her a gentle bow before smiling paternally to the young man who escorted her.  Once he received his customary salutations from his son, a subtle nod in one’s general direction, he stepped back onto the training sands and the little girls who stood on shaky legs waiting for him. 

“Good morning, Princess.  Thank you for joining me.” Mors said to the pale haired young woman he stepped up beside, leading their small party away from the raven haired fighters who screamed out in frustration and pain alike behind them.  They fell into step alongside one another, however unlike the night before, Mors kept his distance from the Lady of High Society so as not to offend her with the stench of his labours.  “Did you attend any councils in your father’s court?” He asked her conversationally as they climbed the stairs and traversed the corridors that would lead them to the main hall within the Tower of the Sun.  As she began to answer him, her soon-to-be husband interrupted her, cutting off her words with the sharp edge of his own.  “You will attend many in Dorne.”

They stopped at the large double doors of the hall, containing the thrones of Dorne within.  With an outstretched arm and two flicking fingers, Mors gestured Ser Devran forth from where he lingered, never more than a stone’s throw from the young Prince and his bride.  It took only a stern look to convey the desired message to his knight before he turned his attention to Princess Aeranys once more.  “I will be along shortly.”  He didn’t bother to explain the reasons behind his quick flight from her presence, turning on his heel and heading down another long stone corridor, though she could assume that he meant to clean himself up.  Luckily, Ser Devran was there to fill the silence. 

“He does that for your sake.” The knight told her.  When she turned at his words, he swung open the doors and gestured for her to step inside.  “Your seat will be the one next to his.” 
Title: Re: The Golden Sun and the Silver Moon [m]
Post by: asterin on November 13, 2019, 01:08:56 AM
The blazing disc that had graced the sky above was nowhere to be seen by the time they left the festivities, hand-in-crook, greeted only by the nighttime quiet. Still, she didn’t mind the silence, her ears having been battered by greetings and pleasantries of the many, many nobility of the Dornish court. Briefly, she allowed her eyes to slide shut, her chin tilting up ever-so-slightly as a cool breeze washed over them; a small moment of reprieve in a night that had offered her none.

“Are you curious?” the question came from the prince, breaking the quiet. She turned her gaze up towards his golden eyes.

Curious? Yes, one could say that Aeranys was curious--about quite a few things from this night alone, in fact. The green-eyed beauty who had turned away with tears in her eyes; his strange laxness when it came to his younger sister; the way he would go so abruptly from courteous prose to shattering the grand communal farce of propriety; the exchange between the prince and Lord Gerold Dayne that had all at once been cryptic and far too illuminating…

These she would have questioned him about--and more--had she been a creature more daring or foolish. Alas, her mother had taught her to repress such base impulses. “Milord?” the princess replied instead, her voice carefully bemused and innocent.

“The wager Gerold spoke of. Would you like to know what it was?”

Ah, the wager…

“If you would not mind, milord,” she answered politely. The Dornish prince proved to be rather willing, and the young woman listened attentively as she should as he began to explain. Her painstakingly catered expression, however, turned briefly to genuine eagerness at the mention of Arthur Dayne and the rush of fond memories the name ignited within her. Arthur, Rhaegar’s closest friend, who had been like a third brother to her. Of course, he’d spent more time with her oldest brother than with her, but he’d always been kind to her, and Aeranys had appreciated how he managed to brighten her brother’s solemn mood.

“Arthur liked to paint me as the hero in every story, even when I didn’t deserve it,” the prince continued with the cadence of a storyteller. “So, of course, he used to say that I would be given a kind and good noblewoman for wife, maybe an heiress from across the narrow sea like my father, or a Princess like his father before him.” Yes, that sounded like the Arthur she knew; ever loyal and noble, he was indeed the sort to see the good in others. “Gerold, on the other hand, would insist that I would choose a very different sort of woman.  Someone as… indelicate as myself.” ‘Indelicate.’ That had been a sentiment her brother would’ve shared. In fact, the horrific adage that came afterwards--monsters don’t make mothers of maidens, only meals--rang in tune with what Rhaegar had said.

Only a dragon can weather dragonfire.

It seemed that Lord Gerold and Arthur had never come to an agreement other than to disagree. In fact, she distinctly remembered a similar argument with Arthur jumping to defend the Dornish Prince’s character one tourney years prior. It’d been a bloody sight, an unfortunate event that had somewhat dampened the festivities. Rhaegar had called it a disgrace, while Arthur had insisted it was an honest mistake, and as for Aeranys, she had focused more intently on getting the two to stop quibbling. In truth, she hadn’t known what to believe back then, but now, after she had witnessed the devastation of Greenstone, it was difficult to keep the same neutral stance she had once so innocently held.

A goodly princess or an indelicate monster. So that had been the reason Lord Gerold Dayne had at first admitted that Arthur had won the wager. And yet, her husband-to-be had replied--

“I haven’t decided who has won yet,” he repeated the sentiment, his eyes holding her gaze meaningfully, and yet, it irked her. Lord Gerold’s remark came bubbling up within her mind: Do tell me when you have reached a final judgment about your betrothed.

‘A final judgment,’ like a prize filly to be weighed and measured, to be quantified and classified. All her life, she’d been held up against the measuring stick of the ideal princess and bride, taught to desire nothing more than to be judged in the manner they had spoken of--and yet, perhaps for the first time since she’d been a rebellious little girl being admonished for her unruliness, she felt herself chafing at the idea.

“Maybe both,” the Dornish Prince proposed.

“Maybe neither.” The words flew from her lips before Aeranys had quite realized it, a barbed challenge unbefitting the gracious lady she had been raised to be. Immediately realizing her misstep, her gaze flicked downwards and away, hiding the hot lurch of emotion that had sprung up within her under a delicate curtain of lashes. “Milord,” she added, the honeyed word spoken in a tone so laden with demure humility that it could soften any defiance that had come before it.

Luckily for her, it seemed that her little retort had not stirred any unrest within her betrothed as they continued down the halls of Sunspear--much to the princess’ relief. She was being petty, Aeranys chided herself mentally. Hadn’t she let go of that childish struggle against her upbringing long ago? It was only to be expected for her value to be weighed in such a way. After all, she was but a commodity to be bartered with, to be traded and bought. A princess for an army, a bride for an alliance. That was her purpose, her role in this game, her duty. There was no place for tantrums or juvenile upset when it came to duty, she reminded herself.

When they came to a stop, however, it was not at her own quarters, or any other place she recognized. As the prince went on to explain that her surprise lay within the room, she couldn’t help but feel the familiar swell of dread come over her. “Don’t be too long,” he told her, the quiet words ringing more of a warning than anything else, and the almost gentle expression on his face did little to assuage the growing anxiety she felt. With one last farewell, the dark-haired prince left her, striding down the corridor and disappearing around the corner. She stood there, acutely aware of Ser Devran’s presence in the shadow. Like a shade, he repeated his absent liege’s words to her.

Taking a breath, she placed her hand on the door, hesitantly pushing it open. She carefully inched into the room, her eyes probing the gloom. It was a simple room, but in the far corner, someone lay in a bed, white-blonde hair glinted dully in the candlelight, falling over a pale, gaunt face--and her reluctance fell away as she recognized the figure. “....Ser Laenor!” she gasped.

“P-Princess?” the knight gave a start, jerking upwards in his bed before cringing in pain. Biting back a hiss, he unfurled gingerly onto the sheets as the young woman hurried to his bedside.

“I-I’m terribly sorry Ser Laenor, I’ve disturbed your rest,” Aeranys apologized, “I didn’t mean to startle you, I just…”

“No, milady...You didn’t...” he murmured with obvious effort, and she realized that he must still be taking some sort of draft to keep his pain at bay. Nonetheless, the rush of relief that surged through her was palpable. As a matter of fact, she realized that she was far more moved to see him now than she had been down in the cellars of Greenstone. Her head had been filled with nothing but their escape and survival; there’d been no time for relief, not when nothing could yet be ensured. Now, safe from bodily harm in Dorne but still so very far from home, it felt special indeed to be reunited with the one person who had made the harrowing journey with her. Her moment of joy, however, quickly turned to quiet horror as she got a better look at the knight before her.

No one had told her about the burns.

She’d seen the manse up in flames, a sight that had nearly caused her heart to stop. It had been with Septa Oranea’s help that the Dornish troops had been alerted of Ser Laenor’s whereabouts, and she’d been assured that he’d been promptly rescued, alive and recuperating. Reasonably, it made sense that he wouldn’t have escaped all harm from the fire, but…

There were few places on his skin that had remained unblemished by the fire. The stench of burnt flesh overcame her, and she immediately felt ill. Whether it stemmed from his salved injuries or from the depths of her wildfire-fueled nightmares, she could not say, but she swallowed her nausea and ever-so-carefully placed her fingers over his only hand. “I’m so sorry,” she managed in a shaky whisper, for there were no words left to offer him. “I’m so sorry, Ser Laenor.”

However, it seemed that in his sleep-muddled haze, something else had utterly caught his attention. “You’ve been hurt, princess,” he muttered, staring at the ugly bruise that was on display with a furrowed brow. “Who’d dare to do such a thing…?” His concern over a measly little bruise when he was covered in burns could’ve made her laugh if it wasn’t so upsetting.

“This is absolutely nothing,” she reassured him gently, finding her composure once more. “You should be worried about yourself, Ser Laenor.” Still fixated, he reached for her with an unsteady hand, his fingers hovering over the bruise for a contemplative moment. His fingers then turned to clumsily tease her pale hair from its arrangement, covering the mottled injury from sight. Only then did the tension in his face fade, and he let out a deep sigh as his hand fell back to his side.

For a stretch of time he was silent, looking as if he would slip back into slumber, but before his eyes could close, his head lolled towards her. “I will forever treasure them as a badge of honor, milady, as proof of my time in service to you,” he declared gravely, a flickering spark of lucidity in his sea-green eyes. “Even if...I should be dismissed and sent back to Driftmark as a cripple…” his words grew slower and slower as his eyelids too grew heavier. “Never…will I...”

She stayed by his side as he succumbed to the call of sleep, and though his expression had grown slack, the knight looked as small and utterly alone as a sickly boy confined to his room. Five years ago, she had kept a similar vigil at her brother’s bedside as the fever destroyed him from the inside out, until he had breathed his last--but this vigil was not meant to head towards such a morbid end. Still, she found she didn’t have the heart to leave the knight who had never looked at her with anything but devotion in his eyes. She remained there until she no longer could--until Ser Devran came to collect her, silent but accusation heavy in his gaze. She too answered in only silence, making no attempt at any sort of apology as she rose from her seat as strode out of the chamber.

As she was escorted back to her chambers, her thoughts wandered briefly to the prince’s parting words. Would his trusty knight go running to his master to report that she had stayed past her welcome? Her lips pressed into a thin line. If he’d wanted her to be so exacting with her time, she thought to herself, perhaps he should have stayed with her in person.

*********

While her betrothed had toiled away at the training grounds, fending off steel, she had been fending off steel of a different sort. She had been beset with a flood of seamstresses not long after her morning meal; consequently, she’d been forced to spend the rest of the time standing as a living doll in the center of the room while they measured and stitched, draping bolt after bolt of the finest silk and cloth. It was a mind-numbing ordeal, but not an unfamiliar one. Her mother had commissioned a gown for the ceremony, a beautiful dress of silver and white--but it was difficult to say where it was by now. Perhaps in the vault of a Stormlord, or already in the hands of some trader halfway across the Narrow Sea. Though she hadn’t felt much attachment to the gown, she found herself wishing it had survived the journey, if only to spare herself one more fitting.

Of course, the princess never uttered one complaint or made her weariness known--even when one unwitting seamstress accidentally stabbed her with a pin.

However, by the time Ser Devran came a-knocking to whisk her away, the young woman almost felt inclined to thank the knight. As usual, he’d been somewhat vague when it came to explaining where they were headed, but soon enough it was clear that they were headed towards a training area of sorts. Even from a distance, she could hear shouts and cries of the youngsters training. The sounds grew louder and louder until they turned the corner--just in time to see the Dornish Prince send two small figures crashing into the dust. As they squirmed and struggled, she realized that the two children were the same little girls she had met the night prior; Oberyn Martell’s daughters.

It only took an extra second for it to dawn on her that they were crying, sobs running ragged with their laboured gasping--something that instantly alarmed her. For all the years she’d spent as a wishful spectator on the sidelines, watching her brothers and other lordlings receive their training, she had never once seen them reduced to such tears. Despite this, the knight at her side, the Master-At-Arms, nor her intended seemed to pay much mind to their distress. They looked on as if this was nothing but the norm, to be expected. She watched in mute shock as the girls begged the young man for reprieve, only for him to step threateningly towards her. The poor girl-child flinched back, as if she was expecting a kick or a cruel blow, and she felt her throat constrict at the fear in her dark eyes. Yesterday she had thought that even Mors Martell was soft on his younger sister and little cousins. She’d even thought that perhaps he liked children. Yet, how could he do such a thing to these girls?

It appeared that the Dornish Prince had caught sight of her, for he handed off training to the Master standing nearby, approaching them shortly after with a genial smile and a bow, which was nothing short of jarring. He thanked her for joining him, and she forced her own pleasant smile onto her lips. “But of course, milord. It is always a pleasure to be in your company,” the princess replied, ever-dutiful despite the way her gaze kept wanting to stray back to the exhausted girls.

Aeranys stole one last look at the two girl-children as she was led away, watching them continue their training on quivering legs. Was this how he always treated them?

Her wandering thoughts, however, were immediately reined in the moment her betrothed tossed a question her way. “Did you attend any councils in your father’s court?” he asked, a preposterous question to pose had he known anything of King Aerys’ policies. Of course she had not. Only Rhaegar had ever been invited to council meetings, and even that had not started until he had left boyhood behind.

“My father kept many learned lords as advisors--” she began, always one to rephrase unseemly statements to soften them, but she was soon to be cut off by the prince.

“You will attend many in Dorne,” he intoned, his voice leaving no room for any arguments about the matter.

“Of course, milord,” she deferred obediently, though in truth a streak of unease had wormed its way into her. Out of all the many, many wifely duties her mother had taught her to perform with perfection, sitting in on council meetings had never been one of them. It was true that in the past, Targaryen wives had often advised their husbands as any other high lord, or even been the driving influence behind their actions--but it had not been the case for several generations. Her mother had little to teach her on the matter, since she had never been allowed to be part of the council, either. Perhaps things might have been different had she been destined to be a queen, but from her birth, it had been decided that she’d be a princess and a wife, no more.

No sooner than they had reached the foreboding doors that presumably led to the council chamber, her intended abruptly excused himself, only leaving behind the promise that he would be back shortly. She turned to watch him stride off, wondering if he’d left some document of import behind in his chambers, but the mystery was soon to be solved when Ser Devran opened his mouth. “He does that for your sake,” he commented.

“My sake?” she repeated. The insinuation finally dawned upon her and Aeranys almost didn’t catch the wry laugh that threatened to escape her. “Oh, I see,” she instead remarked politely, nodding. It now made sense why he hadn’t bothered to offer her his arm, choosing instead to walk a distance away from her. Out of all the things, that was the one thing he feared would offend her? Why, as a child she’d return to her keepers flushed from riding, hair full of straw and face streaked with dirt, sweat, and worse. It was a peculiar thing indeed for the young prince to think nothing of sending hapless innocents adrift into Shipbreaker Bay and razing an entire island to the ground, and yet still feel compelled to wash up before he would have to sit next to her. Strange and unreadable, truly.

However, as the knight pushed the grand pair of doors open before her, the princess knew that now was not the time to dwell on her betrothed’s contradictions. Like it or not, she would be attending her first council meeting.

Taking in a breath, Aeranys squared her shoulders and stepped inside. A circle of unfamiliar faces stared back wordlessly, looking rather unimpressed. Fortunately, with a second look, she could pick out a few she recognized from the string of introductions the night prior. What did surprise her, however, was the fact that a good number of them were female, something that was unheard of back in her own court: another reminder of the fact that she was in a very different environment to the one she had grown up in. Still, she would have to strive to adapt to what would be her new home.

Smiling pleasantly despite the frigid undertone within the room, she greeted them graciously, taking care to address the ones she knew by name as she made her way to the smaller of the two empty chairs that remained. Their response was lackluster, with a smattering of forced greetings and nods of reluctant acknowledgment, but it did not shake her amiable demeanor. “Prince Mors will be here presently,” she reassured them, promptly answering the silent question in the air. No one moved or spoke up, eyeing her as if she was naught a child who had lost her way and stumbled into a place she did not belong, but the princess feigned ignorance. Folding her hands neatly in her lap, she maintained the poise her mother had ground into her bones, a benign smile firmly in place like a shield.

For once, she hoped that the Dornish Prince would return soon.
Title: Re: The Golden Sun and the Silver Moon [m]
Post by: Reigning King on November 13, 2019, 05:54:10 PM
There had been many rumours regarding Princess Aeranys Targaryen that had circulated through the High Society of Westeros over the years.  In recent months however, those whispers had been recounted and reviewed at length by those who called the sandy, mountainous plains of Dorne home.  Everyone was curious about the unplucked Dragon who would become their future ruling Princess.  For some, this general intrigue was born from an innocent place.  For others, who watched after the quiet Princess with unkind stares, intentions were more malicious.  Of all the different pairs of eyes that watched her, none were quite so tenderly studious as those of Natari Toyne.  Her brown gaze never hardened, at least not all the way, not even when she was angry.  She looked enough like her brother, with the same pronounced jaw and straight-sitting nose.   While they resembled one another by way of appearance, they different greatly in their nature.  Though thoroughly trained in the art of combat, Natari’s heart had always been soft.  As she looked on at the pale Princess, she couldn’t help but feel a twinge of pity for the delicate young woman.  She was pretty enough, beautiful even, but Natari knew that a lovely face meant little to Prince Mors Nymeros Martell. 

“Welcome, Princess Aeranys.” Lord Vorian Dayne greeted politely as the Targaryen-born girl took her seat, the only one at council to display any kindness openly.  She nodded to him respectfully, offering her own demure words in return.  It was Natari’s brother, Ser Devran, who escorted Princess Aeranys to her seat.  He pulled out the chair across from Maester Caleotte.  Both sat at either side of the waiting chair at the head of the table.  The place at the opposite end was that of their liege, Prince Doran Martell, which had remained decidedly empty for the past few weeks of council.  Natari passed a quick smirk to her brother in silent acknowledgement, returned with the expected nod of the head from the Dornish knight as he tucked the petite Princess into her place.  The table looked on expectantly at the Targaryen girl until she offered them humble assurances. 

“Prince Mors will be here presently.” She said.  True to her word, Prince Mors arrived at the council meeting minutes later with his uncle, Prince Oberyn in tow.  He donned fresh, loose-fitting robes, the smell of citrus oils wafting through the room as he entered.  The Red Viper was laughing at something his nephew had said, though Mors’ young face remained unsmiling as ever.  Oberyn took a remaining seat among the throngs of many while Mors took his usual seat at the head of the table.  With the screeching of wooden legs against the marble floor, Maester Caleotte scooted his chair closer to the Prince, placing a collection of parchment in front of him.  Leaning back in his chair yellow eyes began to roam the pages while the rest of the attending Lords and Ladies waited in patient silence.  With a passive wave of his hand, the council commenced. 

“Preparations have been made for our marching forces,” the Maester began.  “House Dalt has supplied our armies with enough goods to see our men through to the Stormlands.” Pausing, he passed an agreeable nod to Ser Deziel Dalt, who nodded back in recognition.  “Lady Lexia,” Maester Caleotte continued.  At the sound of her name, the head of House Qorgyle looked to the man who addressed her, the gold charms that lined the red, satin veil she wore across her nose jingled against one another where they hung beneath her chin.  Her eyes were lined with black coal and her black hair was held in place by the desert scarf gathered at the top of her head.  “While the offer is much appreciated, we will not require a Castellan to fill the seat of Dorne.  Prince Doran will be returning to us in the coming days.  Your son will be asked to lead the Sandstone forces in battle.”

“That is well.” Lady Lexia said thoughtfully.  “It is past time that Quentyn should be blooded.”

As the Lords and Ladies of Dorne discussed matters of import with one another, words passed in subdued voices across the glistening council table, their Prince continued reading through the various documents placed before him.  At a glance, it would appear as though he weren’t listening to the council proceedings.  However, to those who knew him as well as Natari did, the miniscule twitches of his face could be read as reactions to the passing subject matter.  He thumbed through the pages, snake-like eyes skimming first and then focusing more pointedly on those which held pressing material.  His repetitive movements differed only once.  Without sparing so much as a glance in her direction, Prince Mors placed a crumpled piece of parchment and ink before the girl at his side.  It was a letter from Ser Arthur Dayne.  Prince Rhaegar was in good health, well protected within the Red Mountains.  A small retinue of House Manwoody’s best swords had been discreetly stationed in the surrounding areas as an added precaution.  He made brief mention in his letter of ‘the Stark girl,’ and her ‘quickening condition,’ but only to inform needed parties of her continued strength.  It was the final line of the letter upon which Mors decided to hand the neatly written script over to his betrothed. 

Prince Rhaegar sends his apologies to his sister, as he will not be in attendance at her wedding.  He fears for the safety of Lady Lyanna and will not be moved to leave her side. 

Tell Mors, I am sorry.  My place is here.

“-- and when can we expect such directive?” Lord Trebor Jordayne interjected, his tone always measured and mild-mannered.  He was a man who possessed within him an endless sea of calm, an attribute that Prince Mors both envied and emulated. 

“We can discuss such things at a later time…” Maester Caleotte answered dismissively. 

“No.” The table fell silent at Prince Mors’ halting word, each pair of eyes moving between Maester Caleotte and the Targaryen Princess who sat across from him.  “I’m sure Princess Aeranys is very interested to hear about her brother and his whereabouts.”

“Surely, my Lady, you are bored with such conversation.” Lord Vorian offered politely. 

“Yes,” agreed Lord Anders Yronwood.  “Best we let you retire early from council today.” He suggested, casting each eye in the room to the young woman who sat at Mors’ side. 

“Shall I repeat myself?” The Dornish Prince asked, leaning forward and folding his hands upon the council table before him, creasing the parchment beneath his fists. 

With a laboured sigh, Maester Caleotte continued.  “Prince Rhaegar still resides at the Tower of Joy.  The King has sent him with his best White Cloaks and personal guard.  There he will remain until collected by Prince Mors and the rest of the Dornish army.”

“Prince Mors, Princess Aeranys, and the rest of the Dornish army…” Mors corrected coolly.  Again, the Lords and Ladies of the Dornish council looked between one another, sharing wary glances across the table.  Natari stiffened, bracing herself for the coming onslaught of protest. 

“My Prince, the journey through the desert is rather taxing for a northern maiden…” Lord Trebor objected. 

“Is it?” He returned, his tone even and his expression stern. 

“Mors…” Natari cautioned in a gentle voice, her eyes flicking nervously around the table. 

“Such matters should not be discussed in the presence of a northerner.” Lady Lexia interjected sharply, poison on her tongue.  To those from the southernmost realm of Dorne, all the people of Westeros who were not Dornish, were northerners. 

“Princess Aeranys is my intended.” Prince Mors reminded the satin-clad scorpion. 

“But not your wife.” The clear, ringing voice was that of High Septa Nysah.  She wore the ornemental robes of her station, the jewelled cap upon her head more expensive and decorous than any other, maybe even that of the High Septon in King’s Landing.  Her lips were pursed as she regarded the Princess Aeranys, looking her up and down.  “Not yet.”
 
(https://media.giphy.com/media/mAPmc0YEwUralxFAxX/giphy.gif)

“Princess Aeranys, wouldn’t you like to take an afternoon stroll through the gardens?” Lord Vorian Dayne tried again.  “Let us leave matters of state to its keepers, hm?”

“I think she’d like to hear what its keepers have to say.” Prince Mors retorted, his tone becoming cross. 

“And will you always speak for your future wife, Prince Mors, or does the girl possess a tongue of her own?” High Septa Nysah countered.  Silently, all eyes slid to Princess Aeranys.  It was obvious by the expressions they wore on their impatient faces that they expected her to take polite leave of the council proceedings.  What was less obvious was the way her husband-to-be watched her, his gaze intense and asking.  Natari could see the silent command written in the lines painted across his boyish visage, she could practically hear it shouted out loud through the Great Hall, echoing off the marble floors and gold-plated adornments.  “Burn them…” it sneered.  Perhaps the Targaryen Princess was cut from a more delicate cloth or perhaps she was more simple of mind than the gossips gave her credit for.    Either way, her well-mannered words came as a shock to Natari as she politely excused herself from the Hall and made a swift exit with Ser Devran in tow.  Her own shock gave way to understanding but she could see in Mors, his shock boiling over into rage. 

“Mors…” She tried again, more firmly this time. 

“Carry on.” He muttered curtly.  With another passive gesture, council resumed.

Ser Devran did not escort Princess Aeranys back to her chambers, but instead to another grand room within the Tower of the Sun.  The library sat cool, inviting and fortuitously empty.  The doors were open when they arrived but Ser Devran closed them firmly behind him after ushering the Targaryen Princess inside.  He had not been given such a command from his liege but he often knew Prince Mors’ wishes even when unspoken.  The girl meandered into the Grand Library, taking in her surroundings before looking to Ser Devran, seemingly anticipating further instructions.  In return, he only offered her a shrug. 
Title: Re: The Golden Sun and the Silver Moon [m]
Post by: asterin on November 14, 2019, 11:08:31 AM
The tension strung-high in the room was only loosened somewhat when Prince Mors Martell and his uncle, Oberyn Martell, finally joined them. His absence had been but a brief one, she was sure of this, and yet it had felt much longer than just a handful of minutes, no doubt due to the uncomfortable silence that had filled the chamber. Once he had taken his seat, however, everything seemed to lurch into motion, the maesters and lords and ladies speaking up in turn while the sound of parchment rustled in the background. Though she had little context to go off, Aeranys nevertheless listened carefully. There was, after all, a surprising amount one could learn simply by paying attention. Talk of war had never been something her mother had never allowed her, but what with many a lord rightfully thinking of this as ‘her brother’s war,’ she knew she would have to become familiar with the subject soon.

Her attention was diverted only when her intended, who was going through the documents that had been placed before him, suddenly placed one of them in front of her. Her eyes flicked to the prince’s face, but he was not looking her way. The parchment was badly wrinkled, and taking the letter into her lap, she cautiously ran her palms over the paper to smooth it out. Would it be rude, she wondered, if she read the document while everyone was deep in conversation? Of course, her betrothed was doing the very same thing, but she was distinctly aware that she would not be regarded in the same manner that they viewed their beloved prince. However, the moment she began to read, all thoughts of what the others were saying disappeared.

It was from Arthur--about Rhaegar.

Heart ramming in her ears, the princess began to devour the contents of the letter. At first, the only thing that even seemed to come through was the fact that Rhaegar was safe and well. She swallowed the lump that had risen to her throat, that single piece of knowledge spreading through her like a warm, comforting elixir. As she continued to read, however, other details soon began to step forward: they were hidden and protected in the Red Mountains...and Lyanna Stark was with child. This news was not as pleasing to her as the first, and her brow creased for the briefest of moments before she settled back into her mask of neutrality. It was to be expected--perhaps even inevitable, she thought to herself, but it was the image of Cersei and her infant son that had risen to her mind’s eye. Kingdoms had been torn apart for less, she knew--and so did Rhaegar. What was he thinking? Did love make fools out of wise men, as all the tales and songs claimed?

Furthermore, how and why had he settled on the Red Mountains as his sanctuary? Where exactly was he? His beloved Summerhall was near the range, but if he chose that ruined castle as a fortress, he had to be a raving madman. Not only that, the Red Mountains were dangerously close to the Stormlands. Though she hadn’t had a clue to where her brother might have escaped to, she had imagined someplace much further and remote.

But nothing could have confounded her as much as the lines that made up the last part of the letter.

Prince Rhaegar sends his apologies to his sister, as he will not be in attendance at her wedding. He fears for the safety of Lady Lyanna and will not be moved to leave her side.

He knew?

Of course he does, Aeranys told herself, trying to shake the numbness that had overtaken her. Hidden away or not, Rhaegar had to be keeping careful watch on how things were going. She’d been captured by the Stormlords, and messengers had been sent to King’s Landing--not only that, the ensuing fuss to rescue her from Greenstone could not have gone unnoticed. Surely, that was how he knew.

Unless...when had this been written?

The young woman desperately scanned the parchment for any indicator of a date, but she found none. Trying to calm herself, she swallowed again, her throat constricting for a very different reason this time around. This had to be a mistake...

Belatedly, she realized that the conversation had fallen into silence. Forcibly pushing her racing thoughts down and away, Aeranys raised her lilac gaze from the parchment in her lap to what was going on. “I’m sure Princess Aeranys is very interested to hear about her brother and his whereabouts,” the prince said.

There was more? Not only that, they were all already aware?

Two lords immediately began to protest, and she barely managed to keep a straight face as it was suggested that she’d find news of her brother too boring to stomach. She hadn’t received any news about Rhaegar since his shocking departure--her own brother, and these Dornish lords already knew more than her. Before she could say anything, however, it was her betrothed who spoke up once more, sternly prompting the members to divulge the secrets they had been entrusted.

“Prince Rhaegar still resides at the Tower of Joy. The King has sent him with his best White Cloaks and personal guard,” the elderly Maester confessed, sending her mind whirling once more. “There he will remain until collected by Prince Mors and the rest of the Dornish army.”

Frozen stiff as a statue carved from fine marble, the princess attempted to comprehend. Rhaegar, he was in Dorne. This wasn’t a recent occurrence, he hadn’t fled to Dorne once he’d realized his sister would be there, he was ‘still’ residing at the Tower of Joy. Since when had been in Dorne? Before her own arrival, at the least. Not only that, her father had known well enough to send his best men with him…

“Prince Mors, Princess Aeranys, and the rest of the Dornish army…” Mors Martell’s voice interrupted meaningfully. Another wave of protests began, one she could not quite divine the reason for. Why were these Dornish Lords so adamant that she should not see her own older brother? What did they have to fear from such a reunion?

“Such matters should not be discussed in the presence of a northerner,” the disdain in the red-clad woman’s voice was clear. Such matters? Matters regarding the ‘northern’ crown prince and the very much northern Stark girl? It was laughable, but there was no humor to be found within the pale-haired girl, who sat still and silent, the eye of the raging storm that surrounded her.

“Princess Aeranys is my intended,” the Martell prince was quick to remind the room, as if they would have forgotten.

“But not your wife,” another woman retorted, authority ringing in her words. It was clear to Aeranys by her clothing that she was a High Septa, resplendent in gold. “Not yet.”

The High Septa spoke the truth. Aeranys herself had thought the same during her imprisonment on Greenstone: a betrothal was not a marriage. A marriage was not made until vows had been taken and a bedding occurred, and not a moment before. It was an argument near impossible to fight, something Lord Vorian tried to capitalize on by immediately attempting to tempt her with the idea of a quaint walk through the gardens. “Let us leave matters of state to its keepers, hm?” he prompted, a note of fatherly patronization in his voice.

“I think she’d like to hear what its keepers have to say,” the prince snapped back, irritation rearing its head in his tone.

“And will you always speak for your future wife, Prince Mors, or does the girl possess a tongue of her own?” the High Septa intoned, and it was obvious that this was as far as anything could go.

All eyes turned to her, the demanding message ringing clear within them--Get out. You have no place here.

At this point, a girl of lesser breeding would have been red with shame, unable to meet those gazes. Princess Aeranys, however, took in their expressions while looking completely unshaken, if only on the outside. Though she hadn’t known that this would be the place of reckoning, she had long anticipated this hostility from the Dornish court. After all, she was a Targaryen, not so easily loved.

“But of course, I would never wish to deter the proceedings of a council meeting,” she spoke, her words steady and demure. “Especially in such dire times as these.” Serene, she rose from her seat, standing as her mother always had in the face of scandal. “I would only implore that you find it in your hearts to forgive any transgression of mine that has taken place here,” she requested humbly, though it had been her very presence that had offended them, not anything she’d had said or done. “I am, as you say, but a northern girl, still new to the Dornish sensibilities.” The quiet smile she gave them was without mockery or spite, one that made it difficult to interpret her mild words as anything but good-natured and sincere. “Milords, miladies,” she tilted her fair head, nodding respectfully to the members of the council before turning in a flurry of silks and taking her leave, flanked by Ser Devran.

In truth, the princess had been hoping to be led back to her own quarters. She’d learned many things all at once, and she would have appreciated the chance to be able to make sense of the jumble of information that had been dumped into her lap. Unfortunately, it was another place entirely--a grand library--that she was led to and soon caged within, the large doors closing with a resounding echo. Aeranys turned to her keeper, but he only gave her a shrug. Though his response implied ambivalence, the Targaryen girl knew there was a purpose in bringing her here instead of her chambers. She was waiting--for what, exactly, she could not say.

She wandered innocently into the empty library and the towering shelves of tomes and scrolls, as if she wished to peruse what they had to offer. After some time, the princess reached out and grasped a heavy tome from the shelf--an extensive recounting of the founding of Dorne--and began to leaf through it. Her gaze flicked briefly to her betrothed’s watchdog, before she discreetly slid a certain piece of folded paper into the book she was supposedly reading. Cautiously, she unfurled the filched letter, spreading it evenly upon the opened pages to let her pale gaze dissect the damning lines again.

Prince Rhaegar sends his apologies to his sister, as he will not be in attendance at her wedding. He fears for the safety of Lady Lyanna and will not be moved to leave her side.

As much as she tried to tell herself that she was simply misinterpreting the limited information that had been given to her, that her father’s paranoid imagination was getting the better of her good sense, that there was no way--deep down, she knew that the dark truth had already revealed itself. She stood alone, her fingers running over the inked words, numbly tracing the unspoken insinuation behind them. Even as her heart twisted painfully inside her chest, bitter and sharp, her mask did not crumble, even for a second.
Title: Re: The Golden Sun and the Silver Moon [m]
Post by: Reigning King on November 16, 2019, 06:17:33 PM
The doors to the Grand Library creaked open, but it was not the Dornish Prince who slipped past them and into the room but instead the High Septa.  She looked to the silver-haired young woman who stood within before turning her head to the knight who stood watchful over her.  “I’d like to speak with her.” She told him.  When he nodded dutifully but made no move from his post, she turned her body, squaring her shoulders to him.  “Alone.” High Septa Nysah added sternly.

“Prince Mors…” Ser Devran started.

“I serve the Seven, Ser.  Not your Prince.”  There was a proud authority in her words but still, Ser Devran stood as an immovable statue.  “It was he who told me where to find the girl.  You can ask him yourself.  He should be along any minute.”  The two stared one another down for longer than a mere moment before finally, Ser Devran relented.  He removed himself from the library, leaving only the High Septa and Princess Aeranys within the stillness of worn parchment and old words.

“Come here, girl.” The High Septa called to the Princess.  “I should like to take a good look at you.” Obediently, the Targaryen Princess stepped forward, her silky skirts billowing behind her as she moved.  She held a tome against her chest.  The Collected Histories of The Sun and Spear, a curious choice or perhaps a well-calculated one.  The High Septa said nothing at first.  She looked on at the pale-faced girl before her, circling her like a Master from across the Narrow Sea sizing up a slave for purchase.  When she faced her again, her eyes fell pointedly at the bruising on her face.  “Did he do this to you?” She asked, gesturing to the offensive blemish with only a subtle nod of her head.  At her words, the older woman relaxed her shoulders, but only just.  “That is well.” She observed thoughtfully as she moved away from the Princess and towards one of the large windows spilling sunlight into the Grand Library. 

“Your intended is… he can be a difficult man to understand.” The High Septa spoke in a clear, high voice that would seem gentle if not for the power behind her intonation.  “As High Septa, I speak for the Gods, but they speak to me as well and often of our Prince.”  She turned away from the window again, light reflecting against the golden thread of her robes.  “Mors Nymeros Martell.  When he is crowned Prince of Dorne, he will become the third of his name.”  Her feet carried her back towards the foreign bride that would one day rule the Realm she guarded and the countrymen whom she loved.  “The Seven speak to me of his heart and who shall have it… a flower, breathing fire…” She said the words as though she doubted them even as they fell from her pursed lips. 

“Do you pray, Princess Aeranys?” The High Septa asked.  “Perhaps, it would do you well to visit with me in the Sept of this Old Palace.  The Seven may have answers for you that we mere mortals cannot divine.”

The doors of the Grand Library opened again, this time is was Prince Mors who stepped into the room, accompanied not only by Ser Devran but also his twin sister.  “I hope I’m not interrupting.” He said, unsmiling but polite nonetheless. 

“I was just leaving.” The High Septa assured him, turning from the Targaryen girl, her robes swept across the parquet wood beneath her feet.  She did not pass greetings to the Prince or his companions as she made her swift exit from the library, Ser Devran closing the doors behind her. 

“She’s so scary.” Natari whispered audibly to her brother as the High Septa Nysah departed. 

“No, she isn’t.” Mors replied stiffly as he moved to a clear table.  He carried his collection of documents from the council meeting along with several others that he had gathered along the way.  Setting them down on the table, he spread them before him in a manner which called to mind images of a tutor preparing a lesson for a pupil.

“Maybe not to you.” Natari returned, the tone of jest upon her voice.  “I was one of the little girls she used to whip for not remembering the right words from our readings.” She explained.  Acknowledging the Princess in the room, she tilted her head towards her as she elaborated further, “she was merely a Septa of the Faith in those days.”

“I never had a Septa.” Mors reminded his friend. 

“Just the one.” Ser Devran corrected, earning him a stern glance from his liege. 

“Just the one.” Mors confirmed.

In the uncomfortable silence that followed, Ser Devran’s sister moved to introduce herself formally to her friend’s intended bride.  “I am Natari of House Toyne, your Grace.”  She smiled warmly as she greeted the Targaryen Princess, a stark contrast to her ever-serious brother.  When Princess Aeranys offered her own polite greeting in return, she chuckled light-heartedly and brushed her short black locks from her face, revealing the closely shaved pieces underneath.  “Not a Lady, your Grace.” She corrected sweetly.  “In the Dornish court they call me Dame Natari, but you may call me a friend.”  The Toyne daughter had the look of a warrior.  She stood as tall as her brother with shoulders nearly as broad and strong.  She donned lightweight leathers and her hair was cut to accommodate the helm of her armour when she wore it.  If the Princess was surprised to be encountering a female knight, she did not permit her expression to reveal it.  Perhaps, she was relieved to have someone, anyone, within the Dornish court to show her the respect that this one woman in particular believed she was owed.

“Away with you, Natari.  I have need of my betrothed.” Prince Mors interrupted. 

“So grumpy.” Natari chided, her tone light and friendly.  “You’ll be an old man before your time, Mors.” The Prince only grunted distractedly in response and so, with rolling eyes, Natari turned back to the Princess.  “Should you ever need a boot to fit into his rear, you will always find mine in the armoury or upon the training sands.” She told Princess Aeranys playfully, before making her exit, a kind smile upon her handsome mouth.  “See you later, little brother.” She added, thumping a fist into Ser Devran’s shoulder as she passed him. 

Little brother…” Ser Devran repeated mockingly, shaking his head.  “She was born two minutes before me…”

“And she will never let you forget it.” Mors pointed out before turning his golden gaze onto his future wife.  “Come here.” He instructed her.  As she approached the table at which Prince Mors stood, the tome still held fast against her chest, Ser Devran resumed his post at the doors of the Grand Library. 

“Give it back.” Mors said firmly.  When she hesitated, he tilted his head, fixing her with angry eyes.  Finally, she surrendered, opening the pages of the tome she held and producing the letter from within.  She handed it back to him and he took it readily, setting the parchment down amidst the rest, his eyes settling briefly onto the finely written words. 

Tell Mors, I am sorry.  My place is here.

The letter regarded Princess Aeranys’ older brother, but it was written by the hand of the man whom Mors considered his own. 

“Sit,” he ordered of her, gesturing to the chair opposite himself across the table.  Obediently, she did as she was bid.  Looking up from the pages before him, Mors fixed her with an inscrutable stare.  He watched her in thought for a moment before hissing another order at her.  “Stand.”  At once, she complied.  With the cadence of a predator circling prey, he rounded the table to place himself before her, closer than usual.  The last time they had been this close, she was shouting at him from the belly of a warship.  “You will be useful,” he had told her.  His head tilted, one brow arched over the other studiously as he regarded her.

“Sit.” He ordered again.  When she moved to seat herself in the chair however, Mors kicked it out from under her.  She did not stumble, but instead righted herself again, watching the wood topple end over end into the middle of the library.  Her expression was asking, but her lips remained stayed. 

“Nevermind…” He muttered with a bitter sigh.  “Get out.” Prince Mors turned away from his intended, returning to the pages containing precious information; information that Princess Aeranys was surely eager to know. 

“Come, my Lady.” Ser Devran urged, stepping forward. 

“Not you, Devran.  I have need of your counsel.”  The Dornish Prince told his knight.  “Spend your hours as you please, Princess.” Mors told her without bothering to spare her the respect of meeting her gaze with his own.   “Ser Devran will collect you from your rooms when the sun begins to set for supper.  If he should have to go looking for you, I will be disappointed.” It was only when he noticed her hesitation at the doors of the Grand Library that he looked up to her again.  This time, the anger in his yellow eyes was obvious and palpable. 

“Get out.”

As the doors closed heavily behind Princess Aeranys, Mors let the veil of fragility pass temporarily over his boyish features.  His fingers came to touch upon the words Ser Arthur had written.  Tell Mors, I am sorry… Black brows furrowed beneath the weight of the morning, eyes darkening in storms of frustrating indignation.  “I hate that he’s always right.” He muttered.

“Mors?” Ser Devran pressed gently, concern slipping into his tone. 

“Arthur is owed some gold-dragons.” Mors said quielty. 

Ser Devran did not press the matter further but instead brought his hands to the documents Mors had spread out on the table before him.  “Shall we?” He asked patiently.  Nodding, Prince Mors Nymeros Martell set aside his disappointment in favour of his duty.

(https://media.giphy.com/media/5WfZryY1nASj3HTA5g/giphy.gif)
Title: Re: The Golden Sun and the Silver Moon [m]
Post by: asterin on November 18, 2019, 12:37:25 PM
(https://media.giphy.com/media/ZcoFGjIAI60e9WixBt/giphy.gif)

*********

Barely three moons had passed before word of a suitor had reached her ears--a Volantene noble, eager to claim a likewise Valyrian princess as his own. Unable to keep her calm, she had burst into the council room where her father had been meeting with a few of his closest advisors and Rhaegar. Choked with tears of grief and rage alike, she had screamed like a girl gone mad, a bereaved beast pierced through the heart. Her father’s own fury had not stopped her, even when he had struck her so hard that her cheek had split open and the nail that had cut her had broken in half. While Lord Tywin and Lord Steffon had been frozen stiff in their seats at the sudden chaos, Rhaegar had stepped between the crazed pair, scooping her up into his arms like a broken child and rushing her away--still screaming furious accusations--to his chambers.

For a while she’d wept openly in his arms, sobbing in a way she hadn’t allowed herself since Daeron had died, and he’d rocked her, blotting the tears and blood running down her face with his sleeve. Once he had successfully chased her tears away, she had looked up at him with a stony resolve in her eyes. “I will not marry, not now, not ever,” she had told him, her voice as cold as death itself. “I’d rather take the Stranger as my husband.”

“You, a silent sister? You’d break the vow of silence within the first hour,” he’d returned lightly, a jest not well-received by the girl, who had struggled out of his embrace to stand defiantly, hands balled into fists.

“I will not marry,” she’d repeated herself. “I don’t care what father will say or do. I will not be sold to some stranger, Rhaegar.”

His face had softened then, and her brother had risen to his feet as well to give her a kiss, tenderly brushing her hair away from her swollen face. “No, you will not be sold,” he’d echoed her words. “I’ll never allow it, I promise. I’ll fix this, you’ll see.”

And he had. By some miracle, Rhaegar had done the impossible and swayed their father into turning down the proposal he had been so adamant about. She’d leapt up and hugged him when he gave her the news, but when she’d asked how he’d managed such a feat, he’d only given her a bemused smile and an affectionate kiss. I made you a promise, didn’t I? he’d said.

He’d made her a promise…

At the sound of the doors creaking open behind her, she closed the heavy tome, hugging it close to her chest as she turned. It was not her betrothed who walked in, but the steely-eyed High Septa of Dorne that strode him, commanding even the silent and still air within the Grand Library as well as a queen, even overriding Ser Devran without as much as a blink. The older woman was quick to call her to attention, however, ordering her closer so that she might be able to appraise her. The High Septa circled her as she stood demurely, silent and compliant under her piercing gaze. “Did he do this to you?” she demanded sharply, nodding at the bruise still marring her otherwise pale complexion.

“No, milady, I was injured during the siege of Greenstone,” she replied evenly. The powerful woman seemed much relieved by her answer, but as the princess watched her turn away, she couldn’t help but wonder if the High Septa had good reason to ask such a specific question. She recalled the sight of Vellysa Sand’s teary eyes, then the way the Dornish Prince had stepped towards little Nymeria in the dust.

Nevertheless, as the High Septa continued to speak, she put her own thoughts away for a suitable moment. The woman of faith began with what felt like an obvious statement to the princess by now: that her betrothed was a difficult man to understand. “As High Septa, I speak for the Gods, but they speak to me as well and often of our Prince,” she explained, her voice carrying through the large library.

The dark-haired woman turned to her, her gaze lingering on her thoughtfully. “The Seven speak to me of his heart and who shall have it… a flower, breathing fire…” she mused, though her voice dripped with doubt. Aeranys found herself momentarily taken aback by it, though it did not show on her face. Perhaps her doubt should not have surprised her so much. The Targaryen Princess had never been spoken to by the gods--at least, if they were, they were not the Seven. Like many Targaryens before her, Aeranys dreamed; as a girl she had been so certain of those dreams, but after seeing the horrors within them pass, she no longer wished to believe in them. Of course, what she wanted did little to change whether her cursed dreams came to fruition or not.

As for the so-called prophecy the High Septa had received from the Seven, she could not say whether she believed it or not. Perhaps the gods did speak to her. Perhaps the woman was merely trying to reassure her. “If the Seven will it,” she responded mildly.

“Do you pray, Princess Aeranys?” The High Septa asked.

“As all faithful should, milady,” the pale-eyed girl answered, collected as ever.

“Perhaps, it would do you well to visit with me in the Sept of this Old Palace.The Seven may have answers for you that we mere mortals cannot divine.”

She nodded, her expression carefully thoughtful. “I will be sure to do so, milady.”

Just then, the doors opened once again, and this time it was indeed her intended, flanked by his usual shadow and another, a woman who had been present at the council meeting as well. The princess was not directly addressed, so she stood quietly as the High Septa took her leave and the other three stepped deeper into the library, trading quips and retorts as old friends would.

It was actually the only one she did not know by name who spoke to her first, coming to a stop before her to introduce herself. Natari of House Toyne. Now that she had seen them side by side, it was clear to her that she and Ser Devran were siblings. They shared similar features, though the air that each possessed differed so much that it was admittedly difficult to see the resemblance at first glance. She was not a perfumed lady in silks, standing there steady in leathers with hair cropped short. She was everything Aeranys had looked up to as a child, a woman warrior in the likes of Visenya, Nymeria, and Daena--and as far off as those days felt to her, she could not help but feel a hint of the same admiration even now. “Lady Natari,” she smiled back with a respectful dip, a reserved but pleasant quirk at her lips. ”It is an honor.”

“Not a Lady, your Grace,” the tall young woman returned. “In the Dornish court they call me Dame Natari, but you may call me a friend.”

Her polite smile grew a little warmer at the word friend, though it had initially been received with an amount of surprise. Friend. Arianne had uttered the same sentiment when they had first met as well. It was almost a marvel, how easily they used that word, friend. “Thank you, Dame Natari,” she replied, trying out the unfamiliar title. “That is very kind of you.”

Before much else could be exchanged between the two young women, however, the prince dismissed the female warrior. Natari hardly seemed bothered by him, demonstrating a carefree sort of familiarity as she gently teased him. “Should you ever need a boot to fit into his rear, you will always find mine in the armoury or upon the training sands,” she grinned at the princess, who only smiled back innocently. Still, Aeranys’ eyes stayed on the young woman as she left the library, interest hidden in her gaze.

The Dornish Prince called her over to his side, where he sat with parchment after parchment spread out in front of him. “Give it back,” he demanded. She paused, reluctant. Of course, she’d expected him to notice that the letter was missing, being sharp-eyed and focused as he was. Still, she’d hoped she’d get to keep it a little longer… When he turned to glare at her, however, Aeranys produced the stolen letter from within the pages of the tome, though an apology did not leave her lips. He took it from her readily, setting it down among the other carefully arranged documents. “Sit,” the dark-haired young man told her shortly, and she obeyed, taking the chair across from her. For a moment, he regarded her as a stern tutor might an unruly pupil, but then something else passed over his face. “Stand,” he ordered next.

Not understanding, but complying without a flicker of displeasure in her pale eyes, she rose. He then stood as well, coming face to face with her in a few angry strides. “Sit,” he commanded once more, as if he were training a hound or a lap dog. Just as she began to lower herself into the chair, however, his foot lashed out, sending the chair toppling to the floor with a noisy clatter. Luckily, she did not lose her balance, only straightening herself to her full height and meeting his strange gaze in silence. If he struck her now, she thought to herself, she would not flinch.

It was not to be, however. “Nevermind…” he breathed moodily, turning away from her. “Get out.” Ser Devran immediately called for her, but her betrothed commanded him to remain, apparently intending to chase her out of the library alone and unescorted. He couldn’t care less what she did with her time...as long as she was back in her room to be taken to dinner. Seeing that he was finished with her, she turned, heading toward the doors that waited for her. Aeranys turned back only once, but her gaze was met with anger flashing gold in his eyes. “Get out,” he repeated, and she did not need to be told again.


************


At first, she’d meant to find her way back to her chambers, but she’d soon realized that this was a rare chance indeed to be free from the ever-present eyes of her keeper. With that in mind, she’d continued on to wander for some time without a particular destination, walking through the many unfamiliar corridors and passageways of the palace. Everywhere she went, people eyed her and whispered to each other when they believed she would not notice, and indeed, Princess Aeranys never once gave away the fact that she could.

It was the Sept that greeted her at the end of her lone journey, grand and beautifully decorated. She let out an inaudible sigh of relief to see that it was nearly empty, save for a sister tending to the candles and another figure busily scrubbing the floors. Her steps, light as they always were, rang out in the domed sept as she led herself to the towering statues and the altars below them. The middle of the day had not a particularly popular time for prayer in the Red Keep, and it seemed that it might be the same case in Dorne. It was different from the royal sept, or even the Great Sept of Baelor, but something about septs had such a similar hallowed air within them that if she closed her eyes, she might be able to pretend she was back home.

She knelt before the Mother first, as she always did, lighting a candle with a practised hand. Praying for the safety of her mother was near second nature to her now, and in the past weeks, she had added Rhaegar’s name to those prayers. Despite the letter, despite the implications that lay heavy and sharp in her chest, she prayed for him still. She looked up at the graven face of the Mother Above, a familiar visage of tender mercy and humility. After a moment of hesitation, she prayed too for young Lyanna Stark and the unborn babe within her belly.

Aeranys had visited the royal sept on a regular basis to offer up her prayers, but she could not deny that there had been a time when she had been much more fervent with her prayers to the Seven. She’d prayed nightly for the end of her mother’s abuse when it had become clear that no one else could protect her from her father; she’d prayed every hour of the day when Daeron lay dying, beyond the reach of even the most skilled of Maesters in King’s Landing. It had all been for naught. Still, the princess that not turned her back on the Seven. It was not in her nature to blame others for things that she herself could not do--even if they were gods.

Suddenly, something knocked into the side of her folded legs, and her eyes flew open in surprise. The man who had been cleaning the floors had accidentally driven his arm into her as he scrubbed the stones below. He skittered back away from her, still on his hands and knees, head bowed low as he stammered out an almost incomprehensible string of apologies.

“It’s alright, good brother, there was no harm done,” she reassured, but the cowering man’s distress did not recede as he began patting down the floor in a growing panic; he was looking for something. She soon spotted what he was searching so frantically for--the brush, which had tumbled only a small distance away from him. Realizing that he must be blind, she picked up the grimy brush before kneeling next to the man, gently touching the man’s hand, blistered and red from labor. “Here you are,” she murmured, pressing the tool back into his hands.

His fingers curled tightly around the brush like a drowning man clinging to a branch. “Thank you, milady, thank you,” the poor man repeated, over and over again, raising his head up as if to instinctively meet her gaze.  When he did, however, her gracious words withered to nothing in her throat in stark horror.

Where she had expected his eyes to be, clouded and unseeing, were nothing but deep blackened pits. His eyes--his eyes had been put out, she realized faintly. That was not all. Something about him seemed...familiar.  The man quickly ducked his head down, mumbling more thanks before he turned from her to continue his thankless task, but the little of what she had seen of him had been enough. Still knelt on the floor, she stared, wracking her brain for answers. Where had she seen that face? As she watched the man crawl underneath the fire-red glow of a stained glass window, all at once it became clear.

Greenstone--she had seen him on Greenstone, bathed in gloom and hellish torchlight, amongst the screams of women. A hand rose to the bruise on her cheek, fingers cold against the tender flesh. The soldier who had struck her and left her for dead.

Her stomach turned. Her betrothed had asked her who had dared to raise a hand against her. She had kept her silence, and yet how…

Stumbling up, she turned and left the Sept as if to flee the scene of a crime--but the sight of those blackened pits stayed with her the entire way.


************


When Ser Devran came to collect her for dinner, the princess had very little desire to eat--but she knew that mattered not a whit. Dressed once more in harmless soft silks, she was led to where her intended and his family waited, a veritable feast laid before them. As usual, she was seated beside the prince, who hardly looked her way. Typically, that would have suited her well enough.

The princess hadn’t quite known what to do about what she had witnessed in the Sept. Sequestered safely in her chambers, she’d rationalized to herself that out of all the days, this would not be the wisest day to press her betrothed any further--not after the disastrous events at the council and the library afterward. Yet, now that she was in his presence once more, she was unable to keep her silence.

“I was fortunate enough to spend my time in the Sept, milord,” she started conversationally, her head tilted slightly towards the young man at her side. It was a rare thing indeed for the princess to speak to him unprompted, but she carried on as if it was the most ordinary occasion. “It was quite beautiful, but I saw a curious sight.” Nonchalantly, she took a sip of her wine before continuing. “There a man, scrubbing the floors on the Sept. I noticed that his eyes had been put out, and I couldn’t help but wonder, milord--” her gaze flicked to his face at last. “Why he had been made to suffer so.”

“We can speak of such trivial matters later,” the prince answered dismissively. He did not even bother to look her way.

Trivial matters. Her fingers tightened around the stem of her goblet, but she forcibly kept her calm. “If it is so trivial, surely there would be no harm in speaking of it now, milord,” she reasoned.

“We will discuss this later,” he repeated curtly, clearly finished with the topic.

Aeranys knew she had already tread on the line of his patience. She knew it would be foolish to test him any more. And yet, at the all-too-fresh memory of the soldier’s face twisted with fear and pain--at the memory of Serra, toppling over like a discarded doll--she found that her own patience, seemingly bottomless, had run dry.

“No,” retorted, rising from her seat to stare him down, her eyes aglow like a dagger in the light. “We will discuss this now.” The conversation around them dwindled, but the princess did not care. His odd golden pupils finally met hers, and for a moment something flickered deep within them. Satisfaction? Approval? She remembered that look, the look in his eyes as they stood near chest-to-chest over spilled ink and ruined letters, her finger stabbing accusingly at his heart; the look in his eyes as she stood over his crumpled form, glowering indignantly. Then it disappeared behind his mask of calm, and he rose to his feet, uttering no complaint as she lead them away from prying eyes and gossiping mouths.

Once they were sufficiently out of sight, the princess turned to him, her voice level but still pointed. “Why?” she demanded once more.

“He clearly wasn’t using them,” he supplied, almost matter-of-fact.

The words were scarce out of his mouth before she continued. “Did you have any proof that he was the one?” Aeranys questioned next, not at all comforted by his clever response. Her eyes bored into his, refusing to look away; behind the paper-thin disguise of calm, her anger seethed. “Even if you did, even if he was the one, did you perhaps think that I would never wish for such retribution, milord?” Was he as foolish as to think that she would be pleased by such a horrible act? The image of her nightmare, of the prince laying the slaughtered at her feet as tribute bubbled up in her mind’s eye, and her jaw tightened.
Title: Re: The Golden Sun and the Silver Moon [m]
Post by: Reigning King on November 18, 2019, 05:23:38 PM
“Do you have any proof he was the one?” The Princess stood before him, playing the role of interrogator.  There was a fire burning behind her pretty eyes, her lithe body tensed as if preparing to receive a blow from a charging enemy.  “Even if you did, even if he was the one, did you perhaps think that I would never wish for such retribution, milord?” Teeth cracking beneath a clenched jaw, she stared down the Dornish Prince before her as though she were the sun itself and he an unfortunate traveller lost in the desert, wilting beneath her unforgiving heat. 

“You are kind, and merciful.” Prince Mors observed as he stepped towards her, closing the space between them with one careful step at a time.  While she might have expected him to bristle at her defiance, he instead rose to meet it with a cool, calming pleasantness.  In coinciding curiosity, while he might have expected her to retreat from his advance, she stood fast and unmoving in the wake of his approach.  “That is becoming of a Princess and many will love you for it.”  His words stopped short long with his stride, keeping a breath of distance between them for the sake of propriety.  “But others will think that you are weak.”  It was not often that Mors deigned to explain himself, but he was not prepared to discourage the behaviour that his betrothed had displayed.  Especially not when it had been displayed so openly.  “If they do not fear you, I will make certain that they fear me.”  Lifting his chin slightly, yellow eyes looked down at her from beneath the black lashes that blinked against his cheeks. 

“His name is Croll Sand.  He is a good soldier.” Mors elaborated further.  “He confessed his crimes and accepted his punishment with great dignity.” His gaze turned inquisitive as he prodded at her, searching to see if there was any more flame to be found in the violet coals searing within her gaze.  “He didn’t even scream… much.  He is fortunate that I have a steady hand.”  Standing over her in silence, he tried to gauge her emotions as they passed along her soft features, but only for the usual moment of uncomfortable tension to which Princess Aeranys was likely becoming well accustomed. 

“Is that all?” He asked as he stepped away from her, turning his body sideways as he gestured along the corridor that would return them to their waiting meal.  “My supper is getting cold.”

As the pair returned to the food that awaited them upon shining plates within the Hall, the subject matter of the conversing Lords and Ladies had turned from routine banter to shared gossip.  They leaned across the table, elbows upon the chairs of arms so as to better hear the whispers being released openly over their supper meals.  Their chatter carried on even as the young Prince took his seat alongside his bride.  The subject matter would hardly be considered an appropriate table exchange at a formal affair, but the Dornish court was more relaxed than most in private settings.  “Well, you know that he didn’t just execute them right?” One Lord said, the beginnings of a story upon his forked tongue.  “I thought he burned them with wildfire?” Another interjected.  “One of them, anyway… the other…”

Clink.

The sudden silence that filled the Hall was deafening.  The only sound that could be heard was the scrapping of knife and fork upon porcelain dishes as Prince Mors Martell carried on eating his supper as though he were none the wiser.  With all the subtlety and nonchalance of a man indiscreetly adjusting breeches bunched around the ankle, he had reached into his boot and produced a blade which he then promptly set before him on the table.  It was an impressive piece of steel, though small.  The handle was carved from bone, two short fangs belonging to the deceased snake from which it had been made were embedded into the hilt.  The eyes of those seated about the young Dornishman looked first to the blade before turning to the man himself, who met not a single gaze.  That is, except for the woman at his side, to whom he slid a subtle look as he sipped on his wine.  Voices rose slow and hushed at first, before resuming their usual volume of general merriment, though the topic of discussion was decidedly different. 

“Mors…” Came a high, sweet voice from beside him.  Looking to the elbow on the opposite side of Aeranys, he saw a young pretty face staring up at him with wide, asking eyes.  She held folded papers in her small hands and at once, Mors looked away from the girl with an exasperated huff falling off his stern lips. 

“I’m eating, Nym.” He told her dismissively. 

“Oh, please…” She begged.  “Father is cross and he might make us retire early this evening.  I won’t be able to ask you later.”

“You know not to bother me while I’m eating.” Mors returned firmly to his cousin as he pierced another piece of bleeding meat to devour.  “Go ask one of the other girls.”

“They don’t do it as well as you do.  Septa Oranea lectures me when she has to brush the knots out of my hair.” Nymeria was sweet-faced and smart.  Mors often wondered if his cousin was too smart for her own good.  “Please…” She tried again, dragging the word out into a whine. 

“Fine.” The Martell Prince relented with a sigh, surrendering to the will of a nine-year old little girl.  The transition from one mask to the next was seamless, to blink would be to miss it.  Yet, when he turned to Nymeria there was a gentle softness resting across his boyish features like a warm blanket on a cold night.  With a victorious smile painted across her face, she let herself be pulled into her cousin’s lap as she set the paper sculptures she carried in her hands into her own.  They were small birds, folded into shape and tied off with a short stretch of yarn, one wound into the other.  It was a trick that she had learned from the daughter of some merchant-or-another who had passed through Sunspear, though Mors had forgotten his name years ago.  She had taught herself to fold all kinds of shapes from parchment, but her favourites were the birds.  She liked to have them fixed into her hair so that when she ran, she could feel like she had wings.  At least, that was the way she had explained it to the cousin who combed her long straight black hair with his fingers before separating it into sections.  The practiced, calloused hands that had carved eyes from sockets and smashed skulls beneath an axe braided the little girl’s hair as she hummed to herself and kicked at his shins distractedly.  As he wound the twine and attached paper-birds into her hair, she smoothed out their shape and passed them to him over her shoulder. 

“You did well today.” Mors told her conversationally. 

With her face twisted dramatically and a pout upon her lips, she turned her head to look over her shoulder at her cousin’s yellow eyes.  “You were mean.”  She returned, accusation in her delicate, furrowed brow.

“I know.” Mors answered patiently. 

Accepting the response as though it were an apology, Nymeria turned back around, returning busy hands to the paper-birds in her lap.  “I’ll be better tomorrow.” She assured him confidently.  There was no trauma, no fear nor tears to be found in Nymeria Sand this evening.  She would be a deadly thing one day; a beautiful nightmare haunting her enemies across worlds, waking, unknown or otherwise.  For now, she was still a little girl.

“I know.” Mors answered again.

“Pretty, isn’t it?” She said in her sing-song voice to Princess Aeranys when she caught the silver-haired beauty flicking her gaze in their direction.  “I wish I had hair like yours.  That would be really pretty.” Nymeria remarked with an expressive raising of her eyebrows.  When her father took the empty seat on the other side of Mors, her gaze slid in his direction whilst trying her best to keep her head straight and still for her cousin.

“Trouble tonight, uncle?” Mors asked of Oberyn Martell as he pushed his dinner plate away from him and reached for his goblet instead.

“I can’t find Tyene, Obara has found the wine, and Ellaria has divined new reason to be upset with me…” The Red Viper muttered into his cup. 

“Sounds to me like your usual state of affairs.” Mors remarked casually.  Though his face was unsmiling and stern, his voice bearing only it’s usual bleak seriousness, Oberyn found something in his nephew’s expression that made a smile spread across his own lips following the laugh that tumbled from them. 

“It does, doesn’t it?” Oberyn returned, the implication of a joke upon his voice.  “You know, you should do yourself a favour and forget how to do that.” He pointed out, gesturing with his goblet towards the mass of black locks Mors braided before bringing the edge of the goblet to his waiting, laughing lips.  His daughter stuck her tongue out at her father who scrunched up his nose playfully and returned the gesture, inspiring a giggle from the little girl.

“I braided Ashara’s hair every morning for nearly seven years.” Prince Mors reminded his uncle.  “It is a skill I will not soon forget.”  Quick fingers tied off the ends of Nymeria’s long braid with the final pieces of twine before patting her shoulders with his strong hands.  “All done.” He told her.  She patted along the length of the braid and upon deciding she was satisfied with the results she turned over her shoulder to drop a kiss on her cousin’s cheek before hopping off his lap and running at once away from the table and into the Hall. 

“Nymeria, if you see you sister… Nymeria, wait… Nymer--” As Oberyn turned away from the daughter who had taken off running, his nephew at his side returned to his meal.  “Seven Hells.” The Red Viper swore, taking his goblet in hand once more before noticing a distinctly blonde head peering over the edge of the supper table.  “There you are!” He exclaimed.  “Where have you been?”

Mors lifted his yellow eyes from his plate to see a pair of blue one staring back at him.  The little blonde-haired creature slid her gaze over to her father, but didn’t bother to answer him.  Instead she looked back to her cousin and asked the insisting question of “when?” with her small voice.  She was taller than the table over which she looked but only just enough for her nose to be visible.  If Mors could see her mouth, he knew it would be pressed into a firm, demanding line. 

“When I am done eating.” Mors answered after swallowing the food he held in his mouth, sapping the last few drops of patience he had left into his tone.  At once, the little girl took off again.

“Tyene, no!” Prince Oberyn Martell barked as he rose to his feet.  “Get back here!” He called, but the girl had already vanished from sight.  “Mother’s tits!” Oberyn swore again, shoving at the flatware on the table.  Unaffected, Mors carried on eating as his uncle drained the last of the wine from his goblet and stepped around his chair, meaning to go after his daughters once more.  “Pray the Father sees fit to bless you with sons, Mors.” He told his nephew.  “Princess Aeranys.” With a bow, he bid the girl who sat on the other side of her intended a polite farewell, only acknowledging her once he was already leaving. 

“Actually,” Mors started as he turned to Princess Aeranys.  “I wouldn’t mind daughters.  Would you?” He looked to her as he set aside his knife and reached for the wine, watching her from over the edge of the goblet as he poured the reds over his lips.  There was a challenging quality about his stare, prodding her further with silence dripping in nuance. 

As the meal drew to a close and the Lords and Ladies of the Dornish court began taking their leave, Prince Mors and Princess Aeranys gathered themselves to follow in suit.  Tyene did not make another reappearance within the Hall, nor did any of her sisters.  Mors could only assume that the Red Viper had reigned in his willful daughters and sent them off to bed, where they could become the headache of another keeper.  The last thing he did before excusing himself from the table, was to collect the bone-carved knife from where he had laid it earlier in the evening.  It was hard to say whether or not Princess Aeranys noticed the way the tides of conversation changed as he replaced the blade within his boot, like the flow after an ebb.  “So what was it you were saying about the wildfire?” One Lord asked.  “It wasn’t just wildfire, the son was strangled… It’s a neat little invention really.  You see, they way they fasten the chain makes it tighten the more you struggle…” They had least had the decency to wait until Prince Mors had escorted his betrothed from the room, her hand looped into the crook of his arm, before divulging the more sinister details of their gossip.  They had followed the rules that Mors Nymeros Martell had written in his younger years.  His knife, which he had lovingly named Fingers, would go hungry and unbloodied for another night.   

Tyene found her cousin in the corridor, with Princess Aeranys upon his arm and Ser Devran trailing behind them.  She guided a goat along with her on a lead of rope.  The little girl smiled brightly at her cousin when she saw him, but the sentiment was not returned.  “You shouldn’t go to the pens without me.” Mors scolded her as their respective parties met beneath the dim glow of the candles fixed upon the stone walls.

“I wanted to pick one all by myself, this time.” Tyene explained with innocent eyes, stroking the head of the fodder she held to her side. 

“Goodnight, Princess.” Mors said to his intended as he dropped her hand from his arm and offered her a shallow, polite bow.  Tyene held the goat in one hand and her cousin’s in the other as the pair strode down the hallway, away from Princess Aeranys and Ser Devran. 

“Is he big enough?” Tyene asked. 

“Yes, Tyene.  Good choice.” Mors affirmed in a doting voice as they rounded the corner and descended the staircase, bound for his workshop in the lower reaches of the Old Palace.  The clopping of cloven hooves echoed in their wake.

“Would you like to visit with Ser Leanor before retiring for the night, Princess?” Ser Devran asked of the silver-haired girl as he stepped up beside her.  “Has been clearer today, and asking for you.”
Title: Re: The Golden Sun and the Silver Moon [m]
Post by: asterin on November 25, 2019, 03:21:35 PM
The princess had been prepared for him to lash out at her. Her father had never taken such challenges lightly, even if they came from those closest to him--and whenever her own anger had been fanned to life, hot and blazing, her father had never once answered with anything other than his typical wildfire rage, uncontrollable and all-consuming. Therefore, what her intended responded with--a measured, almost amiable tranquility--was perhaps the last thing Aeranys could have predicted.

Still unmoving in her defiant stance as he encroached upon her, she took in his steady words as they fell from his lips. Her mercy and kindness might be seen as weakness, and so he would ensure that those would did not fear her would fear him. Her lips pursed, and a streak of bitterness passed through her. Fear. Was fear so necessary? Aeranys knew what a court ruled by fear looked like; she knew what a family ruled by fear looked like. She wanted no part of that. Intent on spitting forth those acerbic thoughts, she opened her mouth--only for her voice to leave her at his next words.

The name of the soldier--Croll Sand.

“He didn’t even scream… much. He is fortunate that I have a steady hand,” he told her placidly. His eyes probed her face, and despite the way her blood had gone cold, her expression did not give way to her emotions. Perhaps she should have known better than to think that he had simply given the order. After all, she had seen him, a demon ravaging the battlefield--and yet, to think that the hands that had often been offered to her over the past few days had carved out the poor soldier’s eyes… Aeranys no longer knew what to say. The prince seemed to pick up on this, turning back towards the corridor that led to the hall they had left, asking if there was anything else she wished to say. Dinner was getting cold. Wordlessly, she joined him, striding back towards the feast that awaited them.

Mere minutes ago, the princess had tossed away all thoughts of what the lords and ladies of Dorne would think of her, but as she sat back down at the table it was clear that she would now have to face the consequences. “Well, you know that he didn’t just execute them right?” a lord was saying, blind to the way the Targaryen princess’ eyes shot to him. She was quick to look back away, however, pretending not to hear. Unfortunately, no matter how skilled of an actress she might have been, it did not stop their poisonous words from crawling into her ears.

“I thought he burned them with wildfire?” the conversation continued, and she could smell it on the air again. Twisting, burning, sickly green. She could hear the screaming.

 “One of them, anyway… the other…”

The other. Brandon Stark, he meant. She didn’t need the lord to continue speaking to know how it had all happened. He’d called for his father even as the noose had tightened, until his words had become nothing but gurgles. Every digit of his hand had trembled with strain as he desperately reached for the longsword just out of reach--

Clink.

The entire hall went deathly silent, syllables fading into ash even as they were spoken. Released from her nightmare-like memories, she too turned her gaze first towards the weapon that had been placed abruptly onto the table, then towards the prince, who pretended that he had done nothing of the sort. His golden eyes met hers for a split second as he drank from his goblet, ignoring the stares of all others. Though his eyes left hers, Aeranys continued to stare, now her turn to scrutinize his mask-like expression for a hint of what lay stirring underneath. In the background, the conversation cautiously began again, the topic readily changed to some other juicy scandal in Westeros.

She looked to the knife that lay before them--a small knife, but unique and distinct in design. Fangs of a snake decorated the hilt, overlooking the blade that glinted sharp in the light. She’d been too caught up in the nightmarish memories that she had not even seen where he’d produced it from, but having been so acutely aware of the conversation that had been going on, she’d immediately caught on to the effect that the knife had.

If they do not fear you, I will make certain that they fear me, he had told her.

She had no love for the fear he inspired. Even when he had come to Greenstone as her savior, a scourge to be released upon those who had held her captive, she had felt nothing but horror and indignant fury at the fear he wielded. Only moments prior, she had condemned it in her heart. And yet, for the first time, she felt as if he had come to her aid, cutting her free with that knife called fear. The emotion that was conjured forth felt much like relief, like gratitude; at the same time, however, she could not help but be disgusted by her selfish hypocrisy.

Her fraught emotions were interrupted by a voice as high and sweet as a silver bell, calling her to attention as it did the prince beside her. It was Nymeria, the girl she had seen collapsed in the dust, a mess of tears and sweat as she begged her cousin to relent. Her face, which had been warped by strain, fear, and exhaustion, was now looking up at the same young man without a trace of those emotions. Holding her bewilderment at bay, she discreetly watched as the girl managed to persuade her cousin into braiding her hair like a nursemaid might--watched the prince pull her up onto his knee, the very picture of an indulging caretaker. Happily, she hummed a tune to herself as she occupied herself with fiddling with her folded parchment figures.

It was almost like the scene she had witnessed in the morning had been nothing but an illusion. However, the next exchange that passed between the cousins proved that it had not been a strange figment of her imagination. There was no hesitation as they spoke of the events of the training. There was no fear from the girl; there was no cold dismissal from the prince.

Now, she couldn’t help but look directly at the strange scene unfolding before her.

Sharp-eyed little Nymeria was quick to notice. “Pretty, isn’t it?” she crooned, having assumed that the princess had been looking at the folded-paper birds she held.

“Very pretty,” the princess agreed amiably. For a season, Elaena had been absolutely taken with amusing herself by folding a variety of things from parchment--dogs and cats, castles and roses. She had attempted to fold a dragon for her mistress, but the young girl had never been able to craft the complicated shape, only producing something that resembled a misshapen swan. The memory brought a faint smile to her lips.

“I wish I had hair like yours,” Nymeria continued, her dark eyes enviously resting on her pale locks. “That would be really pretty.”

“Is that so? I think they’re prettier in your hair, actually,” she disagreed gently, smiling. “It’d be hard to see the birds in hair like mine. In yours, they stand out beautifully.”

The girl’s smile widened in turn, her round eyes resting on her curiously until Oberyn Martell took his seat on the other side of the prince, looking positively fed up. Favoring the cup of wine over the platter of food that awaited him, he grumbled complaints to his nephew, who hardly seemed alarmed. Politely, she turned her attention to her food, pretending not to hear their exchange until a familiar name was uttered.

Ashara. Ashara Dayne, Arthur’s younger sister. At first, Aeranys had been glad to hear that Ashara would be Cersei’s lady-in-waiting, thinking that she would be at the Red Keep. Unfortunately, Rhaegar had moved himself and his bride to Dragonstone not long after, whisking the Dayne girl away with them. It was strange indeed to think of her betrothed, braiding Ashara’s dark hair just as he braided his little cousin’s. As the young girl pressed a grateful kiss to the prince’s cheek before scurrying away, heedless of her father’s pleas, Aeranys wondered what Ashara would say about the Dornish Prince whom she had grown up with. Would she defend his honor as strongly as Arthur had? There was no way she would be able to know now, even though she was in Ashara’s homeland; she was far away, no doubt still one Dragonstone, taking care of the abandoned Lannister and her son.

She had only held Joffrey briefly when he’d been presented at court. The princess wouldn’t have been able to hold him for long anyhow, seeing as he’d been as fussy as he was healthy. From the moment he’d been taken from his mother’s arms to be placed into the queen’s, he’d started screaming, red-faced and angry. He hadn’t relented when he had been passed to Aeranys, and she’d barely been able to brush his fine, blonde hair away from his scrunched eyes before Cersei had reached for the wailing babe. Surely, he would be much bigger now.

A blonde head reminiscent of Joffrey’s suddenly poked up at their table, big blue eyes intently peering at the prince--much to the exasperated relief of the Red Viper. Only uttering a “when?,” she disappeared as quickly as she appeared after she had obtained the answer she had wanted from her oldest cousin, ignoring her father’s cries just as her sister had previously.

Swearing, the Red Viper rose to his feet. “Pray the Father sees fit to bless you with sons, Mors,” he muttered, leaving them with a hurried farewell to chase after his youngest. She watched him go, amusement lurking behind her polite facade. He certainly had his hands full with the spirited girls. Aeranys knew well what the ladies of King’s Landing would think of them, but she could not help but hope that they would remain just so when they grew into women.

“Actually,” her betrothed began at her side, “I wouldn’t mind daughters. Would you?”

Having turned to dutifully heed his words, the princess blinked in surprise. She had never been asked to consider daughters. Sons, on the other hand, had been of the utmost importance. As the only daughter of the royal family, she had well understood that the paramount duty of a wife, particularly of an important family, was to produce an heir and a spare. Daughters, at best, were political pawns--at worst, proof of a failure. Daughters weren’t meant to inherit, but to be raised to be the wife of a man who could, then to be the mother of a son.

But not in Dorne.

Dorne loved her daughters, prized them as well as her sons. The ruler of Dorne could very well be a woman as well as a man. Her daughters were free to be whatever they wished; a fierce warrior or a cunning flower in silk veils. As that recognition settled within her, she met his intense golden gaze. “If they would be anything like your cousins, milord, I believe I would very much like to have daughters,” the young woman answered, and even she was startled to hear the strange warmth that lay hidden in her voice.

Dinner ended without any other event, that was, until they rose to retire and the prince retrieved the odd knife from where it had been put on display. “So what was it you were saying about the wildfire?” the question came rushing back out, as if a seal had been lifted. The gruesome conversation took its natural course, but luckily, she was not forced to listen any further. Locked in perfect poise as ever, Aeranys left behind the gossiping lords to enjoy the horrors they hadn’t witnessed in person. If they had, she knew they would never speak of it so gleefully.

A small figure waited for them within the halls--little Tyene, who had a goat with her. A pet? It certainly was not a typical pet to be had, but… As the young girl spoke with the prince, it seemed clear enough that the goat was not a pet, but to serve some other purpose. What that purpose was, she could not divine. She bid the young man and his charge good night, watching them walk off together, hand-in-hand. “Is he big enough?” Tyene asked innocently.

“Yes, Tyene. Good choice,” she heard him say.

Big enough for what? Though nothing concrete came to mind, a veil of unease fell over her. It was put aside, however, when Ser Devran spoke up.

“Would you like to visit with Ser Laenor before retiring for the night, Princess?” he asked. “He has been clearer today, and asking for you.”

Princess Aeranys turned to the handsome knight, briefly regarding him with an assessing look. After what had occurred the night prior, it was unexpected for him to suggest such a thing. Had the prince instructed him to do so? Or was he simply being a dutiful keeper? It was difficult to say. “Yes, then I believe I shall,” the Targaryen girl responded politely, though her pale eyes remained guarded, giving nothing away.


*********


The knock was quiet, almost apologetic, but the sound immediately roused him from the doze he had lapsed back into. “Y...yes?” he called out weakly, his voice still hoarse. The maesters had told him that the smoke had damaged his throat, something he himself could confirm. They had assured him that in time, he would recover his voice, but he had yet to see such signs.

The door creaked open slowly, revealing the slight figure of the princess. “Milady,” he breathed, struggling to pull himself up into a sitting position as she came to his side.

“No, there’s no need for that,” Princess Aeranys told him, a dainty hand at his shoulder to stop him. Giving in, he allowed himself to return to his former position, lowering himself into the pillow. “How do you fare tonight, Ser Laenor?” she inquired.

“Better, milady,” he replied, taking in the sight of her. It felt like ages since he’d seen her last with a clear head, and she looked so different now, in flowing Dornish silks and her long hair gone.

“I’m sorry for waking you,” she apologized, but the knight shook his head.

“These days, I do little else than sleep, milady,” Laenor explained wryly. “It is a welcome thing to be able to do something else.” The long hours he spent sleeping was partially out of need, but also because there was little else he could do. A maester would come morning and evening to change his dressings, to check on his ruined stump of an arm and the burns that traversed his body. He was brought breakfast, lunch, and supper, and then he would be left to solitude. Fortunately, he’d been in a drugged haze for the majority of the time, but as his condition improved, the maester had been attempting to wean him off of milk of the poppy.

It mattered little. Regardless of whether he was clear of mind or deep in the swamp-like pull of potions, when he was not asleep, his thoughts always wandered back to her. She had come to him the night before, that much he remembered. He didn’t remember much of what they had spoken of, but the memory of her candle-lit face and the featherlight weight of her hand had stuck within his unravelled mind.

He watched her as she seated herself onto the simple chair beside his bed, his gaze never once leaving her. In his brief visits to court as a boy, he’d admired her from afar. Like any noble boy he’d been half in love with her, the sort of childish infatuation that simply sprang from the fact that she was a beautiful princess who would never be his. A frivolous, fleeting thing. That’d been all.

When he’d turned fifteen, only half a year before Prince Daeron fell ill, he had been brought to court to squire for his eldest brother. Everything had changed then. After a hard day of training, he had been heading back when he’d stumbled across the sight of the princess stepping out onto her balcony. Without thinking, he’d come to a stop to watch like a man under a spell as she stood there, looking out into the sunset. Perhaps thinking herself to be alone, she had let her iron-clad composure slip. Her perfect smile had faded away and her shoulders had slumped ever so slightly, a sad, wistful longing glinting in her eyes--and all at once, she’d been the most loneliest, loveliest thing he’d ever seen. He’d wanted nothing more than to protect her, to make it so that she might never look so weary and sad. To achieve that dream, he’d become the youngest member to join the Kingsguard.

And yet, every time, he’d failed to protect her.

Her hair was carefully arranged tonight, but he remembered what had concerned him so the previous night. “How have you fared in Dorne so far, milady?” he began cautiously. “Has Prince Mors been kind to you?”

“Of course,” the princess responded serenely, dodging past what he truly wished to hear about with expert ease. “I admit the politics of Dorne elude me, but I will learn in time.”

“And your betrothed, milady? He hasn’t been...ungallant?” Laenor asked once more. She paused, seemingly taken aback by his bold question, and the blonde knight rushed to explain. “You were hurt when I saw you last night, milady. You were not hurt the last time I saw you in the stable.”

“I was injured during the siege, by a soldier,” the princess explained patiently, but the way the words left her lips sounded practiced, as if she’d spoken them before. “‘Tis nothing but a bruise, Ser Laenor.”

“Forgive my impertinence, but...if your betrothed were to be ungallant, you would tell me, would you not, milady?” the young man pressed, an edge of desperation slipping into his tone. “I serve you; I’ve been bound to protect you. I do not answer to Prince Mors.” Even as he spoke, he knew it was silly. Absolute folly--as if he could do anything now, as a cripple. It was a terrible, frightening prospect, and yet, he could not stop the wave of worry that washed over him.

“Thank you for your concern, Ser Laenor,” she assured him, her voice soothing--but it only sounded distant to him. “But he has not been ungallant towards me.”

The young man sighed, knowing he couldn’t insist any further. “That is a relief to hear, milady,” he conceded, though he was far from convinced. Perhaps the princess did not know, but he had watched over her for nearly six years; for most of those six years, she had been deeply unhappy. Princess Aeranys might have been adept at putting on a brave face, but he had come to understand the depths of her emotions--and now, he feared for her. He feared she would only grow more lonely and unhappy, and he would be absolutely powerless to stop it.
Title: Re: The Golden Sun and the Silver Moon [m]
Post by: Reigning King on January 05, 2020, 11:21:31 PM
Mors stood at the receiving end at the docks of the Old Palace.  In the distance, just a spot upon the horizon, the red and gold sails of Martell ships inched closer and closer with each passing minute.  The wind was with the sailors on this day, filling their canvas and drawing them forth.  The same wind sent the dark curls that framed Mors’ face fluttering about him, brushing against the cheek of the man who stood at his side.  The Red Viper had been rather quiet on this particular morning, which was unusual for the talkative man.  Mors paid him no mind for the time being, though he could feel his brown eyes watching him in careful consideration.  He was eager for his father’s return, but more so eager for his counsel.  Elia stood with them as well, but her silence was an expected and welcome comfort. 

“You should cut your hair.” Oberyn Martell told his nephew, piercing the veil of tranquility.

“Curls get tangled in chainmail.” He added.

“Yes, uncle.” Mors answered plainly.  The patient silence enveloped them once more but Mors did not fail to notice the way his Aunt Elia nudged an encouraging elbow into her brother’s side. 

“Mors…” Oberyn began again.

“Yes, uncle?” He repeated the words in his usual, even-mannered tone.

“How fares your intended?” The question was asked with a casual, conversational cadence.

“Fine.” Mors answered quickly.  “Why do you ask?” As he spoke, his golden gaze slid suspiciously to his aunt who looked away from them innocently.
 
“Well, there was that business at dinner last night…” He began cautiously. 

“You told her about that, did you?” Mors asked his uncle at once.  Oberyn returned his pointed gaze with an apologetic one, but the accusation was enough to stir Princess Elia Martell from her passive position at her brother’s side.

“Of course, he told me.” She insisted.  “You should be more gentle with her, like you are with the girls.” Elia encouraged.  Though her tone was light and conversational, her lips were pursed and her brows knitted together in concern. 

“They are children.” Mors pointed out.

“What about Arianne?” Elia countered. 

“Little sisters will always be children to their older brothers.” He explained patiently, eyes still fixed to the horizon.

“He’s got you there.” Oberyn agreed, flashing a quick grin to his own sister.  She rolled her eyes at him in response, as only an older sister could.

“Still, I think she would respond better to a more tender approach…” Elia tried again. 

“You think she’s weak.”  It wasn’t a question, merely an observation. 

“Well, she’s a Lady, Mors.  King Aerys court is far different from your father's and I think you should consider…” Princess Elia Martell wasn’t given the option to finish her thought.
 
“She is not some delicate flower, Aunt Elia.  Princess Aeranys is a dragon.  She will endure.”  While Mors didn’t altogether understand his betrothed, he had learned one thing: the future Princess of Dorne was not weak.  Kind and merciful, perhaps - but not weak.

“I’m only trying to help.” There was a softness to her words as she spoke.  Mors knew at once that he had hurt his aunt’s feelings.

“And I am grateful for the advice, but this discussion is over.” His eyes were fixed to the horizon, but he could hear the boisterous chatter of the approaching Ladies, Arianne’s voice recognizable among them.

“I know, I know.” Princess Elia conceded with an exasperated sigh.  “Not in front of Arianne.” She stole a glance over her shoulder to the entourage that descended the steps onto the docks before looking back to her eldest born nephew.  “You’re more like your father than you know, Mors.”

“You’re late.” He said quietly to the mass of dark curls that bounded up beside him.  Though he maintained his stoney disposition, eyes tuned to the encroaching sails upon the horizon, his quick hands caught the boys that came crashing in at his legs. 

“Am not.” Arianne countered at once as she took her place at her brother’s side, smoothing out her skirts.  “I’ve been standing here all morning, like a nice, young lady.” The nasally voice she put on to mock their father was a poor imitation, but Mors warmed in the glow of his little sister’s playful nature nevertheless. 

“Up…” Trystane nagged, tugging on Mors’ arms. As Ellaria and her retinue of ladies set to calming down The Red Viper’s willful daughters behind him, Prince Mors turned his attention to his needy little brothers. 

“No, Trystane.” He scolded.  “You’re a big boy, stand like one.  Yes, like Quentyn... shoulders back, that’s it.” Mors stood with his brothers before him, a hand on the top of each of their curly heads.  Behind him, his cousins prattled to their sire.  Training had been set aside in the place of a more formal affair, leaving the little girls bursting with excess energy gone too long unspent.  By the afternoon, they will no doubt have tested the limits of each keeper’s patience. Among the herd, one lovely creature separated herself from the flock.  Coming up behind Mors, she placed a hand upon his shoulder, leaning forward and pressing her full bosom into the Dornish Prince’s back. 

“Have you missed me?” She whispered into his ear.  As he turned to fix her with a pointed look, his aunt and uncle cast wary glances at one another upon seeing the scary expression he wore upon his stern face.  “I’ve missed you.”  The pretty young thing continued, the hand she left on his shoulder dragging its way down his back slowly.  He caught the offensive appendage at the wrist and wretched it away from his person, giving the girl a hard shove. 

“Dismiss your chambermaid, Ellaria.” He advised sternly, no warmth to be found in his severe, yellow eyes.
 
“Come, Arika…” Lady Ellaria began, handing the squirming toddler in her arms off to her father. “You are not wanted here.”

“Why must you always be so cruel?” She spat venomously, ignoring the woman pulling in gentle desperation upon her arm. 

“Into the Palace or into the sea.  You decide, my Lady.” He said to Ellaria before turning away from both women, returning his hands to the tops of his brother’s heads. 

“Now, Arika!” Ellaria snapped.  She knew better than to test the extent of Prince Mors’ affections, and while the young man had no further use for the comely maiden, Lady Ellaria would be saddened to see her disposed of on this particular morning. 

“She’s right.” Arianne commented as Arika stomped back down the deck towards the steps that would return her to the Palace of Sunspear.  “You’re being cruel.”

“You should stay away from Arika.” Mors cautioned in a serious voice. 

“First Vellysa, now Arika… you can’t just bed my friends and then send them away.” She muttered petulantly, her lips pursed and her arms crossed. 

“I think you’ll find that I can.” He returned coldly.

“Every Lord at court has at least half a dozen consorts, some even more…” She was looking to contest the subject with Mors, but her stoney-faced brother had already made up his mind.

“Not every Lord.” He reminded her.  “Besides, a good Prince would set a better example for his Lords.”

Groaning, Arianne rolled her eyes at her brother as only a little sister could.  “You’re just like father.” She huffed. 

“So I’ve been told.”

The boys who fidgeted impatiently in front of Mors stayed in their upright, straight-backed poses as the Dornish sails neared the coast, her hull docked and secured along its shores.  Once Prince Doran stepped off the ship, Areo Hotah at his side, he looked down the length of the docks to the family that stood together waiting to receive him.  Mors could tell by his hunched posture that the journey had been taxing on his fragile health.  In spite of this, he extended his arms and smiled warmly to his children.  At this beckon, Mors lifted his hands from his brother’s heads, giving them leave to race along the wooden planks into the arms of their father. 

“Come, sister.” Mors said, putting an arm around Arianne and urging her forward.  “The Ruling Prince of Dorne has returned.”

Prince Doran greeted his loved ones with warm smiles and patient words, keeping the evidence of his condition at bay as they made their way back to the stoney embrace of the Old Palace.  Even once he was sequestered alone in his rooms with only his eldest born as company, he maintained a peaceful and pleasant disposition that contradicted the way his frail body collapsed into the nearest armchair.  They caught one another up on their affairs, though the Ruling Prince of Dorne always divulged information with am certain vagueness that incited in Mors both admiration and frustration.  Once the conversation of more stately matters had concluded, Prince Doran offered his son a few moments of comfortable silence before pressing for intell of a more personal nature.

“So, tell me.” He began, a soft smile upon his tired face.  “What’s she like?”

“Who?” Mors returned casually. 

“Who do you think?” Doran volleyed back in return. 

“She’s a good woman.” Mors elaborated, fidgeting with the vials of medicine upon his fathers end table instead of meeting his gaze directly.  “Kind and gentle of heart…”

“You sound disappointed.” The Prince of Dorne observed. 

Mors only shrugged in response, yellow eyes still tuned to the clutter he touched upon distractedly.  “What’s this?” He asked, lifting a glass receptacle to hold before his father, the contents of which he did not recognize. 

“Don’t change the subject.” Doran scolded tenderly.  “Tell me,” he pressed.

“I’m not sure that she will be of much use to me.” He relented, meeting the older man’s gaze at last. 

“What does Elia think of her?” For Prince Doran, there was none whose counsel he trusted more than that of his younger sister.  Except for perhaps, his eldest son. 

“She’s fond of the Princess.” He answered passively, pausing briefly before continuing further.  “She thinks I should be more gentle with her, but she that’s only because she doesn’t understand her.”

“How can you be so sure?” Doran countered.

“Because I don’t understand her either.” He answered simply.

“Tell me, my boy, do you miss your mother?” Prince Doran asked his son.  When Mors only narrowed his yellow gaze in response, his father continued saying, “this isn’t a test.  Answer me truthfully. Do you miss her?”
 
“Sometimes.” Mors admitted.

“And what about your sister.  Do you think she misses your mother?” He inquired further.
   
“Desperately.” Mors answered quickly. It was no coincidence that Arianne’s rebellious streak had become far more obvious along with their mother’s absence. 

“There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about your mother.” As he spoke, the Prince of Dorne leaned back into his chair as though the weight of his words were a physical burden.  “It is my greatest regret that I was not able to make her happy.”  Mors leaned forward, listening intently to his father’s words.  It was rare for the young man to see his sire in such a state, vulnerable and open, speaking only plain truths. 

“I don’t need to tell you that life isn’t a song.” Doran continued, his eyelids becoming heavy.  “True love is a rare flower that most of us will never find.  But you must try.” His eyes snapped open of a sudden, his own emotions once more locked behind the tightly sealed vault of his passive manner.  “Elia is right.  At the very least, you have to try.”

“Yes, father.” Mors answered dutifully. 
 
(https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/7lWl1TsyxynR4M33OIkexTbR0UCnA5haZhmT0AgHG0wnBAOtRLwqYJK8I0Zo9iaF4HTmstA3AnPIUzJ8PPa16T0qobrEfwxZVlCen7UKICjyOMhIEEijte0u_bvzKrlAvBxSpzJc)


When Princess Aeranys opened the door to her chambers, she found a pleasant mannered Martell man standing before her.  Though he looked as serious as ever, there was a tranquility about his demeanour that marked his mood decidedly improved since the day before.  Such was the effect that Prince Doran Martell had on his first born child.  Soon enough, Prince Doran would hold court in the Tower of the Sun within the Old Palace.  For now, the fragile man was in need of rest.   

“Good afternoon, Princess Aeranys.” Mors greeted politely, offering the pale-haired woman before him a polite bow.  The usual knightly shadow which typically accompanied Mors on most days was curiously absent from his side on this particular afternoon.  “Would you like to take a walk with me in the Water Gardens?”  He asked her with a casual cadence.  “It is too lovely a day to spend cooped up in your rooms.”  His tone was gracious but the ever-present sternness he wore upon his visage implied that his respectful request was to be interpreted more as a coarse command.  They passed idle chatter between them as they ventured out into the sunlit, stone pathways of the Water Gardens. Mors pointed out fountains and sculptures of import, educating Princess Aeranys on the native flora as they passed particularly colourful clusters of exotic flowers. 

“My father insists that we should be married at once.  The day after tomorrow, in fact.” Mors began conversationally as they walked side by side.  He strode with his hands clasped behind his back, shoulders proud and straight.  The robes he wore this day were a shade of purple reminiscent of the curious colour of Princess Aeranys’ eyes, detailed with shining gold thread.  The colours were complimentary of the yellow gown the Targaryen Princess donned, an unintentional but fortuitous accident.  As always, they walked through the gardens looking the part of a smartly matched young couple. 

“My healers assure me that your knight is progressing quickly upon the road to wellness.  I thought that perhaps he could give you away at the ceremony in place of your brother.” Pausing, he let his eyes come to rest upon the pale haired beauty that strode alongside him.  “Would you find such an arrangement agreeable?” He asked her. 

Mors waited for the polite, measured reply from his intended before continuing saying, “That is well.”  Mors stayed his lips for a time and while his expression was still pleasant and warm, there was a wrinkle between his brows that gave hint to the quiet contemplation taking place beneath the surface.  “I’m afraid I am not very good at this…” He said quietly, a drop of vulnerability bleeding into his steady voice.  “With your permission, I will speak candidly - and please stop me if I should speak out of turn.”  Mors stopped beneath the shade of a towering fountain, the likeness of a maiden carved from its marble.  When Princess Aeranys halted her steps beside him, he squared his shoulders to hers and lifted his eyes from where they had been lingering upon the ends of his boots.

“I know that as a suitor, I have made an unfavourable impression upon you… more than once.”  With each word he spoke, he gained more confidence.  Emotionality was forgein territory for the serious young man, but there was a curiosity lurking in the violet eyes that watched him that gave him a glimmer of hope for this perilous undertaking.  “I’m sure that, had we been left to decide for ourselves, we both would have chosen differently.”  He took a measured breath before continuing, the wrinkle between his brows growing deeper.  Taking a moment to consider the action before committing to the gesture, he reached out to take her hands in his.  Though they regarded one another with an air of awkwardness, it was impossible for Mors to ignore the way her dainty digits fit ever-so-neatly into his enveloping grasp.  “If you have questions, I would like you to ask them.  If you have objections, I would like you to make them known.  If you have thoughts and opinions, even those which conflict with mine, I would like to hear them all the same.”  Yellow eyes glowing golden in the afternoon heat looked down to the pale hands he held within his own sun-tinted ones.  “In two days time, you will be my wife and I will be your husband.  I don’t imagine our marriage will be much like the sort written in songs, but…”  His gaze flicked to the statue that towered over them; Princess Danaerys Martell, immortalized in marble by her husband, Prince Maron Martell.  “But, I think I could make you happy.”  Mors’ serpentine eyes searched Princess Aeranys’ expression, questing for validation.  Something resembling satisfaction settled onto the Dornishman’s face at her words.  As he curled the arm of his intended around his own, continuing in step through the Water Gardens, the statue of Dorne’s first Targaryen bride watched over them. 



(https://media.giphy.com/media/TdjeNffe3Kc8XdxTRG/giphy.gif)
Title: Re: The Golden Sun and the Silver Moon [m]
Post by: Reigning King on January 05, 2020, 11:26:47 PM
The grand doors were held open before them as Mors Nymeros Martell stepped into the Great Room in the Tower of the Sun with his bride upon his arm.  At the head of the hall, the thrones of Dorne stood glistening in the sunlight that streamed in from the windows which overlooked the seas beyond the shores of Sunspear.  Ruling Prince Doran sat upon the throne which bore a shining, golden spear.  The one next to him, adorned with a golden sun, remained empty.  Once, his wife Mellario had taken the place of honour at his side.  Now it was his heir who occupied the cool marble from which the throne had been carved, decorated in plated gold.  Each eye in the room fell upon them as they crossed the threshold and stepped further into the hall.  Absorbed in his own thoughts, thinking over the carefully chosen words uttered by the Princess on his arm in the quiet of the Water Gardens, Mors almost didn’t notice when his father addressed him from the throne upon which he was seated. 

“There you are.” Prince Doran said, silencing the chattering voices of the court.  “At last.” 

Mors stepped forward with Princess Aeranys, taking the centermost position within the crowded decorous room.  “Father,” he began in warm greeting.  Uncurling her hand from where it sat in the crook of his elbow, he placed a guiding hand upon the small of her back and urged her forward, offering his bride up for scrutiny.  “May I present my betrothed, Princess Aeranys of House Targaryen.”

“I have heard many rumours about you, my dear girl.” Doran Martell said mindfully, leaning back against the golden spear of his namesake and folding his hands against his chest.  “From every corner of the Seven Realms, Lords and Ladies whispered of the great beauty born unto the King.  You would think she must be the loveliest woman in the world for how quickly the tales spread.”  Leaning forward, Prince Doran offered the silver-haired Targaryen girl a gentle, paternal smile.  “It is a marvel to see that for once, the gossips were right.”  Small clusters of whispers erupted throughout the room, shared in hushed voices amidst varying groups.  When compared to his first born son, Prince Doran’s manner was tremendously underwhelming and non-threatening, at least on the surface.  The aging man was all warm smiles and polite words, never raising his voice or losing his composure.  He did not succumb to the fragility of his health, but instead wore it like armour.  He did not hide his weakness, but instead forced those who came before him to stare it directly in the face; daring them to tread upon his broken toes.  It wasn’t so much his illness, but instead the contradictory confidence, the incorruptible certainty with which he carried himself in spite of it that gave others unease.  By the time the warmth had soured, he would have already gotten everything he ever wanted out of you, and it would be too late.   

It was no great shock to see the Targaryen bride so readily accepted by their Ruling Prince, especially when considering that it was he who arranged the union.  When he lifted his hand to beckon to the young thing before him, the sleeve of his tunic slipped down to his wrist, revealing swollen, knobby knuckles and misshapen joints.  His condition had worsened a great deal in a very short period of time, but you would think he had not noticed the gout for the way Prince Doran sang, “Come here, my Lady,” across the hall.  When Princess Aeranys climbed the few steps to stand before the Ruling Prince of Dorne upon the gold encrusted stone of the dias, the man who occupied it’s seat reached out to take one of her hands with both of his own.  He bowed his head to her from his seated position first before parting his palms like a blooming flower to lay a kiss upon her hand. 

“You’ll have to forgive me, my Lady.  My knees are not what they used to be.”  He said quietly, as though the words were meant for her ears alone.  Pulling his hands from hers, he leaned around her to summon his son forth, gesturing to the empty seat at his side. 

“I hope you have been made to feel very welcome in Dorne, Princess Aeranys.  We are all looking forward to seeing how you take to the Dornish climate.”  The proud man before her, offered the Princess an impossibly sincere smile as his son climbed the dias to seat himself upon the throne beside his father’s.  “Many foreigners find it unbearable, but you, my Lady, you are a dragon. The ability to withstand fire is in your blood.”  Leaning back against the golden likeness of a spear fixed into the high back of the Dornish throne in which he sat, he bowed his head to her again, this one a dismissal.  “I’m sure you will fare well.”  Folding his hands upon his chest, his eyes slipped past her to those who gathered in the hall behind her.  There were many voices to be heard upon this day and Prince Doran Martell only had so many hours left before he would have need to take rest again. 

As Princess Aeranys moved to pass across the dias, her betrothed caught her by the wrist and leaned up towards her as she leaned down to meet him.  “It will be war proceedings for the most part.  You don’t have to stay, but if you do…” Pausing, he gave her wrist a gentle squeeze.  “Do not let them talk over you or down to you.”  Releasing her wrist he leaned back against the throne in which Princess Aeranys would one day sit, once he was seated in the one his father currently occupied.  He watched her pass into the crowd, his little sister finding her new friend quickly, before turning his stern gaze on those gathered before them.  The court of the Red Keep in King’s Landing was different from that of Dorne’s Sunspear in many ways, but Princess Aeranys was learned the functions of High Society.  They would begin with an open hall, wherein Lords, Ladies and other representatives for the smallfolk of Dorne would bring their problems to their Prince.  Given that war-time was upon them, the impending rebellion was sure to be the main subject of concern.  Fortunately, their fears were easily quelled, as war would not be coming to the shores, deserts or mountains of Dorne.  The men seated in the thrones before them had each done their part to make certain of that. 

“You spoke with her, I gather?” Prince Doran asked his son, pulling his attention from the yellow silks that passed amidst the crowded hall.

“Yes, I did.” Mors answered.

“That is well.” The aging man said, placing a misshapen hand upon his arm and giving it a paternal pat.  “You are already a better man than I.”

As Mors looked to his father, the brown hues that had been gazing at him adoringly looked away, his gentle touch withdrawing into the folds of his sleeves.  His expression of fatherly love settled into the hollows of his face, sinking behind his usual countenance of calm contentment.  It was that neutral face after which Mors had constructed his first mask, his oldest facade, the one he reached for each morning as he started his day in a world that wasn’t able or willing to suffer the person he was beneath.  Mors mirrored his father’s actions, his own calm expression a reflection of the one beside him.  He didn’t notice the way his father’s eyes flicked back to him every now and again.  In many respects, Mors and his father were alike.  However, Prince Doran Martell had done his best to make sure that the young counterpart seated next to him was not merely a reproduction, but an improvement upon his own shadow. 

Looking to the young man at his side now, he watched yellow eyes as they found violet ones from across the room.  Already, Mors was a far better reflection than the one his own father had been forced to face in the mirror.  When Doran and Oberyn had been younger men, they had decided that if one brother was the viper, the other must be the gently swaying grass that conceals it.  Grass is not quite the sort of thing to be illustrated heroically in stories, or romantically in ballads.  You had to feel to be a hero.  The only thing Prince Doran Nymeros Martell ever felt was rage; endless, unclipped, soaring rage.  His first born son had inherited plenty of that from his father, but it was his vulnerability that would make him more than anything Prince Doran could have ever hoped to become. 

“We can spare four masons and ten builders for two weeks. Will that be sufficient to repair your battlements?” Mors asked of the castellan before him. 

“Yes, m’Lord.  I would like to extend my master’s most sincere gratitude.  We understand that the rebellion is not expected to reach Dorne, but we must ensure our people feel safe.”  The man before him said, replacing the edge of his head scarf over his shoulder after it slipped out of place while he bowed. 

“Your people and my people are one and the same, my Lord.”  The heir of Dorne returned humbly.  “Please make yourself comfortable while you are here in Sunspear.  The preparations for your journey home will begin at once.” The Maesters standing alongside Prince Doran muttered to themselves, scribbling information upon parchment and sending errands boys running off with commands as the next representative of their beloved Realm was ushered forward. 

Prince Doran sat quietly, permitting Mors to handle smaller matters quickly and efficiently with all the intuitive forethought his father and taught him to value so well.  He acted, not out of charity or fairness but a strict code of personal morals.  The trick, as Doran had learned of his perfectly peculiar son, was figuring out on which side of the fence between good and evil did those morals lie.  None could say for sure, not even the Ruling Prince of Dorne himself.  Yet perhaps there was another, more equipped to handle such a tedious task among them.  She meandered through the throngs of people, Doran’s own clever little girl at her side.  He had taken care in his decision and for his own son he had chosen only the most fitting prize.  Mors was many things, but he was not mad.  Princess Aeranys had survived her father this long, she would be able to survive Prince Doran’s favourite son.  Maybe, she wouldn’t simply survive him.  Maybe, she would give his son the purpose that the Lady Mellario of Norvos had once given him.  Princess Aeranys may be the woman strong enough to hold on to it in return, when his own wife could not. 

Yes.  An improvement, indeed. 


(https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/7lWl1TsyxynR4M33OIkexTbR0UCnA5haZhmT0AgHG0wnBAOtRLwqYJK8I0Zo9iaF4HTmstA3AnPIUzJ8PPa16T0qobrEfwxZVlCen7UKICjyOMhIEEijte0u_bvzKrlAvBxSpzJc)

Title: Re: The Golden Sun and the Silver Moon [m]
Post by: Reigning King on January 05, 2020, 11:27:30 PM
“Good evening, Ser Laenor.”  There was no polite knock, nor slow prying of easing hinges to announce the sudden appearance of the young Dornish Prince.  The Knight of the Kingsguard had heard enough stories about the man that was to become husband to Princess Aeranys, but not enough to know his face.  The man who accompanied him into the small room however, the burly one who closed the door behind them, he recognized him well enough. 

Wake up, White Cloak…” He had grumbled in a hoarse voice, shaking him awake to a bleary haze of fire and smoke. 

Am I dead?” For a moment, the knight had allowed himself to consider each and every sin that may have resulted in the Father passing judgement and sentencing him to the Seven Hells. 

Unfortunately, not.  Well, not yet, anyway.” The knight had answered before turning to his comrades.  “Let’s move him out.  Quickly!” Their touch had been rough and unapologetic.  They had handled him with no great care and though he had only been following the orders, this Dornish knight had saved his life all the same.  It was upon this man that his proud indigo gaze fell as he began to rise from his bed, elbows weak and weary. 

“Please, no need for that.”  Prince Mors offered accommodatingly as he took the cushioned seat at his bedside, occupied usually by healers or Maesters and on the rare and most special occasions, Princess Aeranys herself.  It seemed sacrilege somehow to have this man, this monster, seated in her place.  He had not been of a state to witness the brave and bloodthirsty Golden Fang take the shores of Greenstone, but he had heard the stories. 

“After all, I see that you are still bedridden.” There was a certain tone as he spoke, something nuanced in his words that made them sound as if they were meant as an insult.  Ser Laenor regarded him with a calculating sort of scrutiny, preparing for the blow.  “Tell me, did they take a foot as well as a hand?” He asked, his utterance condescending in nature.  Not a particularly fierce strike, merely a soft-paw thrown out to test the extent of his reach.  The Valeryon-violet eyes of his descendants flicked between Prince Mors and the Dornish Knight of his Guard who stood behind him, waiting for the second hit, but it didn’t come.  At least not right away. 

“My Lord…?” Ser Laenor began when the silence had carried on for a longer period than civilized social conduct would permit. 

“My healers tell me you haven’t left this bed.  Much less this room.  Do they speak falsely?” He asked.  The curious demeanor with which he spoke was infuriatingly even-tempered and impossible to read.  It was difficult for Ser Laenor to discern whether he was being tested or toyed with. 

“There are no windows in this chamber, my Lord…” The young knight allowed his final words to hang in the air, the implication already acknowledged by the enigmatic man seated before him who settled into a position that called to mind images of a scolding tutor. 

“Nor bars, as I’m sure you’ve noticed.”  Something like curiosity settled onto Prince Mors’ boyish face as he crossed one leg over the other, folding his hands together upon his knee.  “Or maybe you’ve also noticed that this door locks from the inside, or that you’ve been sleeping on feather pillows.” He continued before gesturing to a table against the opposite wall.  “Your sword, your effects, they are all just there.” Pausing, the young Dornishman tilted his head to the side, watching the crippled knight before him with a patronizing amusement.  “You are not my prisoner, Ser Laenor.  You are my guest.”

“My armour…” He tried, but the heir to the Realm of Dorne was speaking over him. 

“Lost to the fires of Estermont, I’m afraid.  We’ve readied a new set for you, but of course my blacksmiths require measurements to finish an adequate suit of armor befitting a Knight of your renown.”  The young Prince of Dorne was mocking the sworn White Cloak whose own actions had bound him to this bed, and he was doing so unapologetically.  “You are the Knight I’ve heard about, aren’t you?” He carried on, the same snide nuance to his every word.  “The youngest boy to be Knighted and sworn into the King’s own Guard?  Duty-bound  sword of the beautiful Princess Aeranys Targaryen, only daughter to the King of the Seven Kingdoms…” Prince Mors paused to sigh, leaning back against the cushions that lined the chair Ser Laenor so wished the very Princess he spoke of was sitting in now.  “Truth be told, I was expecting to see you clawing your way to the training sands before the healers even got the chance to touch you, and yet…” The dismissive contempt dropped into his paced speech like a rock falling from the sky.  The pale brown eyes that watched him were a blazing golden in the setting sun of the evening, filled with accusation and scornful judgement. 

“My Lord, I… I was not given leave to…” Once more it seemed, Prince Mors cared little for what little personal defense Ser Laenor could give.

“Ah, permission.” He concluded, his tempered snobbery keeping him from holding the knight’s gaze as yellow spheres went rolling around the room.  “A disappointing excuse, but a fair one, I suppose.  If it is permission you need, than you may have it.  You are free to roam the grounds of Sunspear as you please, Ser.” As he spoke, he rose from the chair upon which he had been perched.  “Training with your left hand can seem a daunting undertaking, but we have some skilled fighters who may be able to help you…” This time is was Ser Laenor’s turn to interrupt the Dornish Prince instead.

“I’m left handed.” He uttered quietly. 

“I’m sorry, I must be losing my ears.” Prince Mors began, the cadence of what might have almost been a joke tickling at his features.  “Did I just hear you say that you are already a trained off-hand swordsman?”

“My Lord.” Ser Laenor confirmed, nodding. 

“I stand corrected.  Not disappointing… pathetic.” The Dornish Prince spat, his venom obvious now and dripping from his gold-tipped fangs.  “You will be taking the place of honour at Princess Aeranys side, escorting her through the Sept of the Seven for the wedding ceremony the day after next.”  Pausing before starting for the doorway, Prince Mors straightened his tunic as he said, “I suggest you use the time to find your footing, Ser.” 

“What?  Wait, please!” Ser Laenor started, calling out for the pair that turned to face him, lingering in the threshold of the knight’s dark, pathetic rooms.  “What is this?” He asked, desperation of a sort bleeding into his choked voice.  “Is Princess Aeranys in danger?  Is there something I should know?”

“All you need to know is that with you holed up in here, Princess Aeranys is being guarded by my men instead of her own.” He began in a patient yet still patronizing voice. 

“Are you saying your own men are inadequate?” The knight asked in return, unable to resist the temptation of an opening to take a jab. 

“Only death could ever keep my men from their sworn duty, and maybe not even then.” Prince Mors countered, taking a stride into the room which, though casual, felt threatening.  As he spoke, Ser Laenor watched the face of the Dornish Knight who stood behind him, the one who had rescued him from the flames at the bidding of his liege.  He was a picture of honour and duty if there ever was one, someone to whom Ser Laenor owed a great debt.  Yet, the olive-hued face before him regarded him with an expression that mirrored his liege Lord’s own distaste.  In King’s Landing, he had been a shining prodigy of promise.  In Dorne however, he had been found wanting.  “Which is how I know,” Prince Mors continued, encroaching on the bedridden Knight of Songs.  “That if my men were ever in a position to choose between me or my bride, they would choose their sworn liege every time.  I should like to have someone standing next to Princess Aeranys, who would choose her.  Wouldn’t you?”

“I… I just…” Ser Leanor had no words for the Dornish Prince who stood before him.  He had come this night to see just who it was that was sworn to protect his wife-to-be, the future Ruling Princess of Dorne.  A rather dismal dowrey, to say the least.  He was right of course, which was the final blow, the knife in his side.  He could have been more cruel, the fact that he wasn’t only made the blade slide that much deeper. 

“I hope you find your feet before the ceremony, Ser.” Prince Mors said, returning to his initial calm and even-mannered tone as he righted himself and straightened his tunics, moving once more towards the door.  “To leave the Princess alone on her wedding day would be rather ungallant for a Knight.  Don’t you think?”  A confused anger fluttered across the blond knight’s face as he searched for words, but the knife in his side had been twisted so quickly and so harshly that it had stolen the breath from his lungs. 

“Good evening, Ser Laenor.” Those were the words that Prince Mors left him with as he stepped across the threshold and into the dimly lit corridor, the sun-stained knight who followed in his wake closing the door behind them.  Ser Devran started down the hallway at once, but paused and waited for his liege who lingered at the wood of the door for the telltale grunt of a man rising from his sickbed.  Satisfied, he followed after his knight.  It would be in poor taste to keep his bride waiting for him, after all.  More importantly, his supper was getting cold. 


(https://media.giphy.com/media/h7XwWc8xoEVOTLe3YJ/giphy.gif)

Title: Re: The Golden Sun and the Silver Moon [m]
Post by: asterin on January 09, 2020, 11:11:15 AM
She woke at dawn to a ripple running through the court, the sound of feet hurrying down the halls in preparation for something to come. It was alarm that filled her head first, chasing the haze of slumber away and causing her to push herself off of the large bed she claimed as her own. Hurrying to the window, she had pushed the embroidered drapes aside, half-dreading the sight of the sea filled to the brim with invading ships. Fortunately, there had been no such sight. In fact, there seemed to be nothing on the dawn-kissed waves. Still, Aeranys waited alone in her chambers for an hour in case she would be abruptly summoned, pacing the marble in unease.

When she next showed her face to the rising sun, pinched with concern, this time she saw what had sent the palace up in a frenzy. On the very edge of the sea, teetering on the horizon, was a telltale dot. A ship. There was only one figure the Dornish court raise such a commotion over--at least, only one that had been absent. However, her suspicions were not confirmed until well into the morning, when Septa Oranea came to deliver the news along with a tray laden with her morning meal.

Indeed, it was Prince Doran Martell, the Ruling Prince of Dorne, who had been spotted on the sea at the break of dawn. He would be arriving on the shores before midday, and his family had been gathered in anticipation of his arrival. It was an affair she would have no part in, which was to be expected. She had yet to be properly received by the Ruling Prince himself; it wouldn’t do for their formal introduction to happen on the docks of all places. Despite the Septa having yet to hear of what the protector of Dorne would do upon his return, Princess Aeranys had little doubt that court would be held before the day was gone, and she would be presented to him.

And so it was that when her betrothed came knocking early in the afternoon, the princess opened the doors fully prepared--both mentally and physically--to be summoned before Doran Martell. However, the prince had come to request a walk in the Water Gardens, a command play-acting as an invitation. As usual, she stuck to the script, adeptly play-acting a gracious acceptance as if the option of turning it down had ever been a possibility. The matter settled just as it was meant to be, they strolled off together hand-in-crook, a pair of marvelous actors.

The flow of pleasant, meaningless chatter was unforced as they made their way leisurely through the winding paths of the beautiful Water Gardens. His calm, measured explanations of the architecture and flowers were received with all the correct responses to be expected from a demure lady--and while Aeranys could have been content to play this tedious game she had been taught to excel at, she knew that her betrothed had not brought her here to talk about fountain poetry and plants. No, there was news to be heard, and the knowledge of that made her chest tighten with hidden unease.

That news made itself abundantly clear the moment the prince changed the subject. “My father insists that we should be married at once,” he told her, the casual way he spoke the words failing to conceal the weight they held. “The day after tomorrow, in fact.”

The day after tomorrow?

“I see,” was all she could manage at first, for her mouth had gone dry. Then, knowing that it was faux pas for the perfect bride to sound as apprehensive as she had, she was swift to make a false clarification: “I only wish that my lady mother and older brother could be here to see it,” she mused softly, her pale gaze downcast for a moment. To call it a false sentiment would have itself been a lie, but Princess Aeranys wasn’t a fanciful girl. She had known from the moment she had heard of this arrangement that her wedding would be far from what she had once imagined; a ceremony at the Great Sept of Baelor, with her loved ones at her side. She had long accepted that she would be entering her new life very much alone, far away from the place she had once believed would be her lifelong home.

You belong here, little sister, Rhaegar had remarked once, after she had managed to chase off another potential suitor. You were born to be the heart of the Red Keep. Never should you be torn away from it. Indeed, if Daeron had not perished, she would have wed him and spent her days at court. Even after he had died, she had thought to do so, to remain at the Red Keep, keeping faithful watch at the side of her mother.

Of course, none of it was meant to be.

Prince Rhaegar sends his apologies to his sister…

Pushing down the bitterness that threatened to well up in her anew, she turned her lilac gaze back towards the prince who would be her husband, lending a dutifully attentive ear to what he spoke next. “My healers assure me that your knight is progressing quickly upon the road to wellness,” he began, and at first it seemed that he had pivoted the conversation away from their upcoming wedding. “I thought that perhaps he could give you away at the ceremony in place of your brother,” the Martell prince continued, proving her wrong. “Would you find such an arrangement agreeable?”

Her brows arched ever-so-slightly, but her moment of surprise was soon to be tucked away. While she had no qualms about the young knight standing in for a family member, in truth, she hadn’t even thought of the matter. It seemed so very trivial compared to everything else that raged about the whole affair--it was somewhat unexpected that he had given such a detail so much thought. “It is indeed agreeable, milord,” she started, her words carefully selected, as usual. “But only if he is well enough for such a task in two day’s time.” She paused, concern briefly clouding her expression. “He is healing, yes, but he is still bedridden, and I would not wish for his condition to worsen needlessly on my account.”

“That is well,” the dark-haired young man acquiesced easily, but Aeranys did not miss the smallest of frowns that hovered about his brow, or the way he fell quiet. Just as she began to run through the words she had spoken, intent on finding the offending sentiment, his halting voice brought her back to the present. She succeeded, with some effort, in maintaining her iron-clad composure as he asked for her permission to speak candidly--a request that seemed utterly uncharacteristic to what she had observed of him. If all he had spoken of prior was him being restrained, it was difficult to imagine what he would say when unfettered.

Strangely enough, however, buried in his courtly words was not a thinly veiled farce or command, but something that felt much like sincerity, even vulnerability. “Speak freely, milord,” she assured demurely, slowing her stride and turning to her intended. “If it is my permission you seek, you have it.” 

He spoke reluctantly at first, conceding that he had made a poor impression upon her multiple times, and how had circumstances been different, they would not have chosen one another to wed. Typically, this would have been her cue to step in with pretty words to deny, but it was clear that he was not done speaking. He reached for her hands and she relinquished them without complaint, allowing him to cradle them with his own; though it was not the first time they had held hands, there was an awkwardness that made it feel as it was the first, perhaps from the fact that the prince before her seemed to be trying to make an attempt at expressing something difficult for him.

“If you have questions, I would like you to ask them. If you have objections, I would like you to make them known,” he finally managed, the words flowing freely now. “If you have thoughts and opinions, even those which conflict with mine, I would like to hear them all the same.”

What he was suggesting, however, ran counter to everything she’d ever been taught a perfect lady and wife should be. It was almost enough for her to wonder if he was making a fool of her, but the sincerity held strong in those eyes. He meant every word, as difficult as it was to believe. “In two days time, you will be my wife and I will be your husband. I don’t imagine our marriage will be much like the sort written in songs, but…” There was a pause. “But, I think I could make you happy,” he concluded.

There it was again, that word--happy, first uttered to her as he directed her attention to his little sister, dancing with the boy she’d so fancied. In truth, she had long forgotten what joy tasted like, the kind of elated burst of emotion she had seen Arianne exuding. It was a feeling that was long removed from her person, tempered by years of training and tragedy, and Aeranys wasn’t sure if she was even capable of mustering such a vibrant emotion anymore. Oh yes, there’d been a time, before wildfire, before mad kings, before dead brothers--but that time had passed her by already. If she could be content, then it meant she was happy. The fact that he had thought of her happiness, the fact that he was saying that he wanted to make her happy--it was more than she could have asked of him. Indeed, it sent a gentle feeling washing over her, a desire to reassure that almost anxious spark in his golden eyes.

“Yes, I also do not imagine that our marriage will be anything like the ones in the songs,” she admitted honestly, only for her voice to turn kind. “But no marriage is, milord.” Marriage was not a song--life was not a song. Despite what people might have thought of her, assuming her to be a sheltered maiden with a head full of songs and tales, she had very little use for such frivolities. He needn’t fear that she expected her husband or their marriage to be like the romances in the bards’ songs.

“As for happiness--you have already made me happy with what you have just said, milord,” she offered him a smile, a soft, contented warmth stirring in her eyes. “I only hope that I might be able to do the same for you.” And with that, a benevolent peace seemed to fall over them and they resumed their stroll, the second Martell prince and Targaryen princess pair to walk the beautiful lush gardens.


+++++++++++


As the grand doors opened before them, the Targaryen princess drew in the lightest of breaths to cement her poise. All eyes turned to them as they walked into the Great Room, the very picture of a perfect royal couple. Even their clothes seem to tout how well matched they were, each wearing the color of the other’s eyes. Of course, while that was little more than a coincidence, the princess’ silken gown--golden yellow in color--was no mere accident.

Knowing that she would more likely than not be presented to Doran Martell, she had chosen her garb with plenty of thought and purpose behind it. With an official recognition from the Ruling Prince, there would be no more room left to contest a betrothal, and indeed, unlike the cooler, softer colors she had worn prior, her the hue of the dress, vibrant and warm, was undoubtedly a Martell color. It was an important part of their sigil, making up the golden spear that pierced the sun, and yet, still a far less provocative color compared to the crimson sun or the field of orange it bled upon. It was only more fitting now that she knew that it would only be two short days until she would wed the Martell prince.

Unlike the young man beside her, the moment she’d stepped into the hall, her pale eyes had been fixed to the figure on the golden throne above--Prince Doran Martell, the Ruling Prince who had returned to Dorne. As he called them forth, her betrothed was the first to speak, presenting her to his father in a most courtly manner. As for Aeranys, she curtsied just so, sinking down gracefully to greet the aging man who leant forward in his seat to gaze upon her. “From every corner of the Seven Realms, Lords and Ladies whispered of the great beauty born unto the King.” There was a mild, good-natured smile playing on his face, his voice equally warm and fatherly. “You would think she must be the loveliest woman in the world for how quickly the tales spread. It is a marvel to see that for once, the gossips were right.”

“You are far too kind, milord,” she murmured, eyes modestly lowered. His flowery words were more for the sake of the Dornish court than for either of their ears, this she knew. After all, Prince Doran Martell had seen her only a few years prior, cordially invited to King’s Landing under the pretense of attending Rhaegar’s wedding. He knew well what she looked like--in fact, she imagined most lords of any import knew what she looked like, what with the number of painted miniatures her father had commissioned.

Commanded to come closer, the pale-haired princess obeyed readily, stepping up to the dais and coming to a stand before the protector of Dorne. He took her slender hand in his painfully gout-ridden ones, pressing an affectionate kiss to the back of her hand. What a far cry he was to her own father! He was a man who appeared soft in all manners, mild and calm, but contrary to what her father and many other lords had thought, Aeranys and Queen Rhaella had never taken the Dornish prince as a toothless fool. It was not some god-gifted wisdom that had allowed them this insight, but simply the perspective they had as women in her father’s court--no, even more so as Targaryen women. It was not so difficult to identify another of their kind when they themselves were dragons taught to appear meek and harmless in silks, after all.

Curiously enough, it seemed that Prince Doran also seemed to pick up on the strange irony that connected the two of them. “We are all looking forward to seeing how you take to the Dornish climate,” he was saying, fatherly anticipation in his tone. “Many foreigners find it unbearable, but you, my Lady, you are a dragon. The ability to withstand fire is in your blood.”

Aeranys met his eyes, the deeper, earthier hue that made a sharp contrast to the odd gold of her betrothed’s pupils. “Thank you, milord. I will take your words to heart,” was all she uttered, a humble recipient--there was a time and a place, and the script did not call for her to be verbose.

“I’m sure you will fare well,” he reassured her one last time before he bowed his head, a timely cue for her to leave. She too sank into another deep curtsy before moving to step down from the raised dais--only for her intended to stop her, a hand about her wrist. Accommodating as always, she leaned down to hear his message, murmured into the space between them. Seeing how well the last political meeting had gone, she half expected it to be another dismissal, this time from the court proceedings, but the words he left her with only rang with the opposite sentiment. Do not let them talk over you or down to you.

She glanced down to him as the words sunk in, silvery lilac on gold. “I understand, milord,” she replied after a brief pause. His crossness during the council meeting and his behavior in the library afterward--it started to make some amount of sense. Toying with the possible realization, she left him with a respectful incline of the head, descending the stairs to join the masses below.

They parted around her as she slipped in between them, but she was not to be alone for long. It was Arianne who darted forth from the crowd, easily linking her arm with her own as if this was the hundredth time they’d done so. “Now that all that boring ceremony is over with, I have some girls I have to introduce you to,” the younger princess bubbled, willfully dragging her along with her towards her goal.

“Oh, I--” Aeranys began, but it was a different figure altogether who brought the enthusiastic young princess to heel: though the majority of the crowd had parted before them, one figure had chosen to stay right in their path.

“Princess Aeranys,” the woman intoned, her striking eyes peering down at her above her satin veil.

“Lady Lexia,” she greeted back cordially, nodding.

“Princess Aeranys,” she said again, a hint of something mocking twisting in the depths of her eyes. “Light of King Aerys’ court. Sweet as she is beautiful. An exquisite crown jewel in every way--the perfect Targaryen beauty.”  The veiled woman settled into her proud stance with the confidence of a lioness on the prowl. “Having heard these rumors, what a shock it was when you appeared, hair chopped short as a page boy’s! I was made to believe that the women in King’s Landing prized their long locks so. Was the Dornish heat that unbearable, milady?”

Arianne stiffened beside her and began to tug at her arm, perhaps intending on leading her away before another insult could be volleyed at her. It was admittedly not a terrible solution, and Aeranys would have been inclined to let the Dornish princess whisk her away from the uncomfortable situation--if not for one thing.

Do not let them talk over you or down to you.

She laid a gentle hand on the younger princess’s hand and Arianne stilled, her worried brown eyes on her. The Targaryen princess, however, did not seem to share her concern, turning to the lady before her with her mother’s calm. The words that fell from her lips, however, were neither that of her mother, her mad father, nor even her clever brother. “No, milady. While imprisoned on Greenstone, I cut my hair so that I could switch places with a kindhearted maid and make my escape,” she replied, her tone as steady as it was frank. “As you say, northern girls are quite fond of their long hair--but with a war brewing, it felt petty to focus on something like hair. I thought it would be a small sacrifice if I could buy my freedom and prevent needless bloodshed.”

As she spoke she reached up to stroke the trimmed edges of her hair, only for the movement to cause her silken sleeves to slide back, briefly bringing to light the ugly gashes that had just begun to heal over into scars. Hawk-eyed as ever, Lady Lexia’s gaze flicked to them immediately, her dark eyes shining with a vicious triumph to have found another vulnerable spot to dig her barbed talons into. However, when she looked back to the girl to mock her, she was only met with the calm, steely gaze the Targaryen princess was levelling at her, signalling that the Dornish woman had only seen what she had been meant to see. Here was a bride who should’ve been worried sick about how she might look on her wedding night, and yet, there was no shame or embarrassment in her eyes. “In fact, no price I could have paid would have been too high,” she spoke knowingly, a weight behind those words. “But I am sure a lady of your courage and wit would have done the same and more.”

It was clear to the Dornish woman then, that unlike the bruise that had begun to fade away from her pale face, those ghastly cuts had been this dainty princess’ own doing--an image that turned the insult on her tongue into ash. At last, Lady Lexia, lethal and deadly with her poisonous tongue, had nothing more to say. Clicking her tongue irritably, she turned away with her head high in the air, taking her leave with as much dignity as she could manage.

Watching the viper-like woman leave, Aeranys released a breath she hadn’t realized she’d been holding. Arianne, once again latched onto her arm, was now bubbling with indignant remarks and reassurances alike; though the silver-haired princess nodded along, her eyes had been caught by a different Martell sibling. From across the room she had felt his stare, and indeed when she lifted her gaze, she found him looking her way. As usual, his face was an inscrutable mask of courteous calm, but she could read the emotions swirling in those golden depths--a hint of satisfaction and admiration. She held his gaze for a moment longer before she looked down and away, appearing as meek as ever if not for the strange smile tugging at the corner of her lips.
Title: Re: The Golden Sun and the Silver Moon [m]
Post by: asterin on January 09, 2020, 11:14:09 AM
+++++++++++

With the patriarch of the Martell family returned, the atmosphere at court seemed to settle a bit further, stars and luminaries orbiting in their rightful paths. The effect was not limited to the courtiers alone--Doran Martell’s presence appeared to calm his family just as well, notably his siblings and eldest son.

Supper had been nothing extremely out of the ordinary; a few toasts had been drunk to the health of the Ruling Prince of Dorne, then to the soon-to-be wed pair, but once the eating and the talking began it all fell back to the usual rhythm she had come to expect. While her betrothed sat next to her, Arianne was seated on the other side of her, and so the majority of evening meal had been spent giving ear to the younger girl’s enthusiasms, whether they be about the Dalt boy or her indecision over what she should wear to the wedding. The moment the young prince had finished his meal, he was led away by his youngest cousin, her small fingers curled tight around his. Unable to keep her curiosity at bay, she had asked Arianne where the pair were headed off to each evening. Arianne had been quick to answer her, explaining how her brother had a ‘workshop’ of sorts down in the basements below the castle. Her tone had been flippant and light, expressing how damp and dark it was down there, and how she didn’t understand why Mors insisted on such a location--but then all of a sudden, her pretty face had grown serious.

“Oh, but let me warn you--you should never interrupt him while he’s in there,” she had told her, her voice lowered into a grave murmur. “Never.”

As far as she was concerned, all was well. Even as a child, she had never had an issue being left to her own devices--if anything, she’d wanted nothing more than to be free to run amok when she’d been a small girl. Of course, that was impossible now, but she didn’t mind having some time to spend as she pleased.

With Ser Devran trailing behind her, she made her way to visit Ser Laenor just as she had done the two nights prior. She imagined he did not yet know that the ceremony was to take place in less than two days, something she would pass along to him. At the same time, the princess decided that she would ask of his condition before saying anything about a certain role he might play at the wedding--after all, Ser Laenor was not the type to turn down such a request from his liege.

Finally coming to a halt before the door, she carefully knocked upon the heavy wood and waited for a response. None came. She knocked again, a little louder--but there was only silence. “Ser Laenor…?” she called softly, a crease settling into her brow. Was he asleep? It seemed too early for him to retire. After a few moments of hesitation, the princess slowly let the door creak open to peek inside.

He was gone.

Not only that, all his things were missing.

It was surprise and worry that rose up in her first, but they were quickly pressed down as she turned to her betrothed’s faithful watchdog. “Ser Devran,” she began calmly. “Where is Ser Laenor?”

“I do not know, milady," he replied, looking back at her bemusedly. "Why would you believe that I do?”

“I doubt anything much happens in this palace without your lord knowing,” she retorted patiently. “And I also doubt that little happens around Prince Mors without you knowing. So I’ll ask again--where is Ser Laenor?”

"The last I saw him, he was here, milady,” Another roundabout response--perhaps intended to test her patience.

If it irked her, it did not show on her face, which remained sweetly serene, along with her voice. “I see. And when was this, pray tell?”

“I saw him before the evening meal, milady.”

“With Prince Mors?”

The knight went silent, refusing to answer--but it was more than enough. “Very well,” she remarked. “Good night, Ser Devran.”

With the courteous greeting she turned away, striding down the halls once more, but soon it became evident to the knight that she was not headed to her chambers. He hurried after her, the question quick to leave his lips: “Where are you going, milady?”

“To see my betrothed, Ser Devran,” the princess replied matter-of-factly. For a moment the knight relaxed, knowing that his liege was not to be so easily found, but as she passed by the corridor that would lead to the prince’s quarters and headed towards a different hall, he felt his unease grow.

Indeed, she might have witnessed the prince and his young cousin heading off in a certain direction each time he’d bid her good night, but without knowing the specifics, it would have been like wandering in the dark. Instead, here was someone who knew their goal, if not all the steps towards it.

Though it took some time to find a staircase that led downwards, it was clear that her journey was still not over. The dark corridors sprawled before her, lit only with burning sconces. She wandered through them as Ser Devran hung back at a distance, only watching. Most of the doors that she reached were locked, or devoid of human presence. However, when Ser Devran stepped in to stop her as she reached for another door handle, she knew she had found her destination. “This is not wise, milady,” he warned grimly, standing before the door.

“Has he commanded you to keep me from this room?” Aeranys queried mildly.

“No one is to disturb him,” the Dornish knight insisted.

“Then can you tell me where Ser Laenor is?” she demanded, her voice finally ringing like a blade unsheathed. “Can you tell me what could have driven a man ravaged with burns to rise from his sickbed with a sword in hand?”

Silence.

“If not, step aside, Ser Devran. Whether Prince Mors gives me the answers that I seek or forbids me from entering ever again, I will hear it from his own lips.” For a tense moment they stared each other down, neither ready to surrender--but it was the willowy young woman who prevailed, the stoic knight moving to stand off to the side. He watched her with those dark eyes, still silent as a shadow, perhaps waiting for her to open the door and unleash whatever he and Arianne had tried to warn her about.

However, there was no turning back now. Squaring her shoulders, Aeranys reached up and rapped out two quick knocks, barely giving those within any sort of warning before she thrust the forbidden door open and strode right in. 

It was Tyene she spotted first, hair like spun gold in the candlelight. She was perched on the prince’s knee, who sat with her at a desk, on which a glass lens sat before them. And in his hand--she realized all at once that it was a snake he held firm between his fingers, fangs glistening with dripping venom. Most would have screamed, flinched back--but Princess Aeranys was a girl used to the sight of horrors. Though she paled, eyes fixed on the small girl who would surely be bitten should the prince’s hand slip, her composure did not crumble.

“Milord,” she addressed him, the greeting more clipped than polite. She did not apologize for interrupting him--her intent would have been clear from the fact that none would have been foolish enough to let her stumble in on him without issuing a stern warning. Instead, the fair-haired princess stood there as her mother would have before her father, ready to weather the storm of mythical proportions of which she had been repeatedly warned of.
Title: Re: The Golden Sun and the Silver Moon [m]
Post by: Reigning King on January 24, 2020, 02:59:53 PM
Two quick knocks upon the door to his sequestered stone room were followed swiftly by a curt and measured, “m’lord.” The young woman who stood at the threshold of his workshop with a calm, yet unflinchingly serious expression upon her face, was none other than Mors’ own bride. 

“Princess Aeranys.” Prince Mors greeted politely.  “What a pleasant surprise.”

“You shouldn’t be here.” The girl who sat upon his knee said at once.  She rested her small hands upon the table before her watching the Targaryen borne maiden with accusation in her fierce little face. 

“Tyene, where are your manners?” Mors scolded his cousin gently. 

Hopping off her Mors’ knee, she dipped into a quick, shallow curtsy before righting herself at his side, a hand upon his knee.  The second youngest of the Red Vipers willful brood was especially attached to her eldest cousin, and especially protective over their quiet hours shared in his workshop.  “Princess Aeranys.” She greeted politely before reiterating, “you shouldn’t be here,” in the same accusatory tone. 

“Princess Aeranys is to be my wife, Tyene.  Anywhere that I may tread, so too may she.” Prince Mors explained.  As he spoke, with Tyene at a safe distance, he adjusted the materials he held before him.  Fingers held fast upon the jaw of the serpent he pinched in his grasp.  Setting aside the beaker that had been filling with its venom, he lifted the twitching tail to his forearm so that the horned reptile might find a more comfortable perch.

“Anywhere?” Tyene asked, her blue eyes swimming with unspoken inquisition as she looked to her cousin. 

He held her gaze meaningfully for a moment before telling her, “say goodnight to your friends.  Ser Devran will take you to bed.” 

“But it’s so early…” She whined, a pout falling on her lips.  Her cousin didn’t answer her, but instead permitted a layer of frost to settle upon his warm expression.  She turned away from him glumly, having received her answer.  As she fluttered about the room from one cage to the next, like a bee buzzing to and fro between blossoming flowers, whispering sweet nothings to her slithering friends, Mors rose from his seated position.  Only once Tyene had stepped away from him did he loosen his grip on the horned snake he held by the open jaw.  Any other man may have anticipated the venomous creature would lash out to strike or slip away in escape upon being freed from the uncomfortable grasp.  Mors however, was not like other men.  The snake held its head aloft, waiting patiently as Mors brought his hand up to his collar, whereupon the yellow and brown scaled serpent slithered itself across his shoulders, coiling around his neck.  The creature, not known among scholars for being loyal or loving, rested itself loosely about its masters neck like a scarf, flicking out a forked tongue against the flesh beneath his ear. 

Mors stepped around his work table as Tyene doddled about the room, moving towards a heavy wooden door which rested against the far wall, tucked in the shadows of the workshop.  He padded his way to the door, reaching not for the handle but instead the brass key which sat in it’s lock, a golden chain hanging from the end.  Quick fingers latched the door and pulled the key from its resting place, returning the chain to the place around his neck where he kept it always.  The snake fidgeted beneath its weight, wiggling as the chain slipped through the scales and came to a stop upon his chest where it hung beneath the large fang next to which it had sat beneath his tunics and robes each day of his charmed young life. 

“Goodnight.” Tyene said passively, casting a jealous glare towards Princess Aeranys before allowing herself to be received and guided away by Ser Devran.  Before the Knight departed, he closed the door to his liege’s workshop, leaving Prince Mors and Princess Aeranys alone in one another’s company.  For a moment, like he so often did, he allowed the silence to linger in the air around them.  The only sound falling deaf and dull into the cavernous workshop was the hushed but ever constant hissing of the tall shelves and the cages they held to their breast. 

“So tell me,” Mors began as he leaned himself against the edge of his work table, crossing his arms over his chest.  His cadence was calm and casual in spite of the intrusion; in spite of the deadly beast coiled around his neck.  “To what do I owe this pleasure?”

The answer his received came easily, albeit with some disappointment.  “Ah, Ser Laenor.” He noted flatly.  “Of course.”  Ser Laenor, the ubiquitous who of it all.  Mors knew that the interrogation had only just begun. 
 
Where?

He uncrossed his arms and set his hands against the edge of his work table, suddenly very aware of the contents hidden within its drawers.  “I should hope that your sworn sword has found his way to the armoury. I expect my smiths are toiling away, fitting him to the plate and mail I had prepared upon our return.”  There was a distrusting nature about her words as she spoke them, but Mors had a measured answer prepared. 

When?

“I visited with Ser Laenor this evening before supper.  I would assume that he left his rooms not long after.  He’s free to come and go as he pleases, after all.  Much like yourself.”  Apprehension clouded her pretty face in a storm of suspicion.  “I can assure you, my intentions were wholly pure in nature.”  Even though he addressed her with an open, warm expression, the narrowed quality of her gaze indicated she didn’t believe him. 

How?

“No amount of pain can keep a man of honour from his duty.”  He pointed out, voice dripping with sincerity and patience, an art he had learned from his father.  Though his bore a curiously prickly edge which was better suited to a young man of his disposition. “I merely reminded Ser Laenor of that duty.”

Why?

“You seem lonely, Princess.” Prince Mors told his betrothed, something that might have been kindness creasing his brow.  “I thought it would please you to have your own man at your side.  Someone who will act in your interest instead of mine.”  He watched the revelation settle onto Princess Aeranys’ face, his own fleeting feelings passing over his ever-stern expression. 

“Is that all?” Mors asked, the same patient quality to his tone.  “Well then, in that case.” Leaning forward he righted himself and closed the space between them in long, purposeful strides.  Reaching out, he took her hand in his and bowed himself forward gentlemanly to meet it.  As he did so, the thin, translucent end of the tail resting beneath his chin began to shake, an ominous rattle echoing against the stone walls. He waited for her to flinch or pull her hand back as he pressed his warm lips against the cool skin that covered her knuckles.  Curiously enough, his intended maintained her steely calm, even as reptilian lips parted to seethe audibly, black curls rustling as a horned head rose from within their veil.

All at once, he stepped away from her and righted himself.  “Goodnight, Princess.” Prince Mors spoke politely as wandering fingers stroked at the yellow and brown mass of scales resting in the hollows of his collar bones.  The snake around his neck had calmed as quickly as the Golden Fang had pulled away.

“I trust you can find your own way back to your rooms.”  The words were spoken to the rear of his workshop, showing his back to his bride as he circled his work table once more and seated himself before his beakers and burners.  Still the snake at his neck remained ever faithful, licking at his damp flesh adoringly in opposition to its nature. 

“Give Ser Laenor my regards.” He added cryptically, his final words to her before Princess Aeranys passed again through the sacred threshold she had so brazenly crossed, shutting the door hard behind her. 

(https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/7lWl1TsyxynR4M33OIkexTbR0UCnA5haZhmT0AgHG0wnBAOtRLwqYJK8I0Zo9iaF4HTmstA3AnPIUzJ8PPa16T0qobrEfwxZVlCen7UKICjyOMhIEEijte0u_bvzKrlAvBxSpzJc)

“I have a surprise for you.”

When Princess Aeranys next saw her betrothed, he stood before her open door with his hands clasped behind his back and a pleasant expression upon his face.  He looked enthusiastic, at least, as much so as he had ever looked, still maintaining the hint of his ever-present stern scowl.  Golden eyes looked upon her with a calculating study.  She did not look displeased to see him, but instead studious herself.  Her pretty lavender gaze lifted to Mors black locks, or rather the lack thereof.  In the time since she had seen him last, a razor’s edge had been taken to the tendrils that had dangled at his shoulders by candlelight the night before.  Raven coloured strands sat close cropped upon his head, making the sharp line of his jaw and the harsh angle of his brow more obvious.  His hair was short enough not to require maintenance; short enough not to get tangled in chain mail.

Princess Aeranys said nothing.  Instead she returned her steady stare to his own, matching his pleasant, passive demeanor.  A silent exchange.  The sort which Mors liked best.  Thus, it was with what might have almost been that elusive ghost of a smile, he turned to offer her his arm.  “Come.” He beckoned softly. 

(https://media.giphy.com/media/ignYemqSh4YgddM9z3/giphy.gif)

Prince Mors Nymeros Martell escorted the young woman to whom it had been arranged he would be married to a parlor in the Tower of the Spear, followed closely by the young Dornishman’s brawny shadow, Ser Devran.  The doors on the far wall opened to a terrace upon which Mors had once taken his afternoon meal in between his lessons with Maester Caleotte as a very young boy.  Tall glass doors remained closed, something moving beyond the men who laughed as they leaned against them.  Upon realizing they were not alone, both men quieted and faced the pair that approached them.  Though they presented in a manner of decorum, the joke they had shared still lingered on their lips as they smiled to one another. 

“Nephew,” the Red Viper greeted in his usual air of casualness.  “Princess Aeranys,” he offered next, pairing the breezy words with a quick bow.  “This is my friend from across the Narrow Sea.”

“I am, Lysos Orlinar of Lhazar, my Lord, my Lady…” As he spoke the merchant offered humble yet courteous formalities to the patrons presented to him.  “It is my great honour to serve the Sun and Spear.”

“The honour is mine.” Prince Mors returned in good manner, before pausing and turning to the silk-clad flower upon his arm.  “Actually, the honour is hers.”

“For the Lady?” The merchant inquired rhetorically, arching his brow pointedly and casting his gaze about the room, searching for signs of another joke in the faces of fellow men in his company.  “Very well.  In that case, it is an honour to serve the House of Fire and Blood.” He corrected himself in a measured manner, eyes lingering curiously on the Princess before him.  “Please,” he said courteously, gesturing for the young woman to join him. 

“I choose only the strongest hatchlings from each nesting.  My beasts are the finest in the known world, I assure you there are none which can match the size and strength of the creatures I breed.”  As he spoke, he guided the fair-haired woman beside him to the doors of the terrace.  Nearing the paned glass, large wings of black and red rustled just beyond. 

“He is my most glorious.  In all my years I can’t think of a finer bird than he.”  Pausing he turned his gaze to the woman to whom he would bequeath this wondrous and expensive gift.  “He is of the zaldrīzes hontes.” He explained. 

“Dragon bird…” Princess Aeranys replied thoughtfully, easily translating the High Valyrian words the merchant had uttered. 

“Precisely, my Lady.” The Lhazareen merchant reiterated excitedly.  “These creatures are as old as time itself, as ancient as the dragons your ancestors rode.”  When she reached for the handle that would open the windowed doors onto the terrace, Lysos pressed a flat hand against the door to stop her. 

“It is good that you are eager, but these beasts have a law of their own which we must obey.” He elaborated, an expression of serene servitude painted across the leathery, sun-dried wrinkles on his face.  “He has been kept blind for all of his days.  You must understand, they imprint upon their masters through sight, and your face must be the first he will ever see of this world.”  Squaring his shoulders to hers, he talked with his hands as he explained the laws of the zaldrīzes hontes to her. 

“You will remove his blinders and speak to him.  It does not matter what you say, only that he hears you and sees you.  When he stretches out his wings, you will know that he has accepted you.  Then, and only then, may you untie the tethers that hold him in place.”  A seriousness settled into the deepest parts of his gaze as he fixed Princess Aeranys with his meaningful stare.  “He will serve you.  He will protect you.  He will die for you.  You need only claim him as your own.”  At last he let his hand fall from the terrace doors. 

Princess Aeranys turned the handle and pushed the paned glass upon its hinges, stepping out onto the terrace.  Behind her, Lysos of Lhazar reached out to close the door behind her.  The men who lingered in the chamber looked to one another in silence.  While Lysos and Oberyn wore expressions of apprehension, Prince Mors presented a visage of calm contentment.  His Knight stepped upon beside him, the furrow in his brow silently communicating the concerns he shared with his liege’s uncle and the enigmatic merchant he had brought to their shores to bequeath a monster unto his bride. 

“Are you sure about this?” Ser Devran asked the Dornish Prince he served. 

“The zaldrīzes hontes are formidable beasts…” Prince Mors conceded in agreement.  “But so is she.”  None within the chamber were brave enough to utter any word in contestation to that particular remark.  When an echoing screech ripped through the quiet from beyond the terrace doors, it was Ser Devran who rushed forth first, a hand upon the hilt of the blade at his hip.  He shoved open the glass and strode through readily, only to see Princess Aeranys leaning upon the stone balustrade, looking out at the dark figure soaring through the sky, growing distant as it passed over Sunspear and into the sprawling horizon. 

“Are you hurt, Princess?” Ser Devran asked as he stepped up beside her, his hand falling away from his sword. 

“Fear not, my Lady.” Lysos Orlinar assured the young woman, the silent asking expression on her face giving enough hint to her concerns.  “He will return.  He is yours now, after all.” Folding his hands before him, the serenity of his features melted away into something playful yet somehow more severe.  “You know I demand payment in full…” He uttered, casting his gaze towards Prince Mors, who stepped forth to drop a purse of coin into his waiting hands, eyes tuned keenly onto his bride. 

“Come, my friend.” Prince Oberyn said, throwing an arm around the merchant’s broad shoulders.  “Let us drink until we can no longer stand.” 

“Then we will sit, and drink some more.” Lysos of Lhazar returned, the whimsical chuckle returning to his face as he bounced the clinking coins in his hands.  Oberyn laughed along with his friend as they returned to the shelter of the chamber, Ser Devran following in their wake.  Mors however, crossed the terrace to stand beside his betrothed.  Mirroring her form, he placed his hands upon the cool stone of the balustrade and looked off as she did to the distant wings in the clear blue of the morning. 

“Does this please you?” He asked her.  As she uttered her polite reply, Prince Mors reached out a hand to lay atop hers with an uncharacteristic gentility.  When her violet eyes met the golden resplendency of his own, he couldn’t help but wonder if perhaps she looked a little less lonely.
Title: Re: The Golden Sun and the Silver Moon [m]
Post by: asterin on January 31, 2020, 09:13:14 AM
She had been promised a storm. She’d braced herself for the worst, piecing together every time she had seen her father lash out with the few times her own betrothed had grown less than pleasant; she had imagined wildfire and thunder, venom and fangs. But as the Dornish prince turned to her presence, there was nothing there to indicate even the slightest hint of displeasure. The hostility she had been expecting, however, came in the form of the small girl her betrothed sat on his knee. “You shouldn’t be here,” little Tyene spat, a disgruntled gatekeeper to the haven she had disturbed. Before the princess could say anything in return, her eldest cousin spoke up, chiding her like a wizened Septa.

“Princess Aeranys is to be my wife, Tyene,” he reminded her. “Anywhere that I may tread, so too may she.”

“Anywhere?” the precocious young girl volleyed back, the very same skeptical question that had risen in her own mind. Somewhat unsurprisingly, there was no real answer to be had as he instructed her to bid her friends goodnight.

Friends?

Her attention, which had been so intently focused on the pair and the venomous snake in the prince’s grasp, finally expanded outwards to the rest of the candle-lit room. Aeranys was all at once all too aware of the feeling of eyes surrounding her and a chorus of quiet hissing. It was clear enough that the multitude of cages that filled the room all housed serpentine creatures of varying species and sizes, all cold eyes and flickering tongues. The vague sense of dread that the realization brought upon her was beaten by swallowed surprise as the golden-haired lass went from cage to cage without a drop of fear, only adoration on her face as she cooed and whispered to the deadly things within. Then again, she thought to herself, perhaps that was only to be expected. Little as she might be, Tyene was no different from her sisters in one way--she was daughter to Oberyn Martell, the Red Viper himself.

A viper had no need to fear other serpents, it seemed, and it would also appear that her betrothed had the same daring ease with the venomous creatures. The snake he had been holding--the snake that had looked nothing but absolutely furious to her untrained eyes--was not gingerly tossed into a cage, but placed lovingly onto possibly a most vulnerable perch. The serpent responded more like a trained lapdog than a dangerous beast, curling comfortably about the collar of the prince’s tunic as if it was the one place it was meant to be.

When Tyene finally took her leave with one last ‘good night’ and a resentful glower directed her way, the door behind her closed with a note of finality, indicating that they were alone. As the silence fell heavy around them, her eyes returned to the face of the prince before her. Once again, she steeled herself once more for outrage, for chaos; it was more than plausible that Prince Mors had simply not wanted to lose his temper in front of his young cousin, after all.

But once again, it did not come.

It did not come even as she demanded question after question of him, even when she did not bother to feign belief in his in all-too-ready answers. His tone was nothing but cordial and patient--so unlike what she had been warned of--that she could not help but wonder if he had been expecting this all along. The idea irritated her, but it would not derail her from asking the question that remained on her mind.

“Why?” the princess demanded at last, the same question she had confronted him with in a corridor only the night prior.

He did not give her a clever, ironic answer, but something else entirely. “You seem lonely, Princess.”
 
“Lonely?” she echoed before she could quite catch herself. This would have been the correct time for the ideal bride to wave off such a notion with a gracious remark about how she could not possibly be lonely, not with her betrothed and his family surrounding her, but the words would not come.

(https://media.giphy.com/media/YQ5Xc8FK7EUCBHd92g/giphy.gif)


Her lips pursed, settling into a tight line. Lonely. She hadn’t thought of such a notion in a long time, but in truth, any sort of loneliness she might have exuded was not due to her removal from home--at least, not entirely. Loneliness had lined her bones for a long time now, to the point that Aeranys no longer quite recognized its hollow presence. Unfortunately for her, now that the veil had been ripped off, it was difficult to ignore just how true it was.

“I thought it would please you to have your own man at your side,” he explained, looking nothing but sincere. “Someone who will act in your interest instead of mine.”

In some way her suspicions had not been incorrect--he had done this in an attempt to please her at the expense of Ser Laenor’s well-being. His reasoning, however, had been far deeper and considerate than she had assumed. Indeed, he was right. It should have pleased her to have someone on her side, someone who would be loyal to her first and foremost when the rest of those around her loved their prince over some strange Targaryen girl. What might have been a natural desire had seemed to her a luxury she had no business chasing after, something she had put aside from her mind before she had even considered it.

On the other hand, he had thought of it--thought of her. It would have been touching if not for the way she felt exposed. Yes, princesses bruised just as hideously as scullery maids did--they had hearts vulnerable as any other, hearts that could break or split wide open with tragedy and loneliness. It was all true, and yet it was meant to be a perfect princess’ best-kept secret, things kept deep under skin-tight masks and impenetrable armor. Unwilling to incriminate herself any further, the young woman finally averted her eyes from his piercing gaze, falling stubbornly silent.

“Is that all?” her betrothed asked in his measured tone. At her silence, he stepped closer to take her hand, raising it to his lips for a courtly farewell. However, the moment he did, the slim snake that had been so comfortably resting about his neck came to life, the rattle at its tail began to sing out a lethal warning as it reared back. Refusing to give in to her body’s first instinct to shrink away, Aeranys raised her eyes to meet its beady reptilian gaze with her composure firmly intact, locked in a deadly standoff. As the serpent bared its fangs, the hissing rising from a warning to threat, the prince stepped away from her to calm the snake. As they exchanged polite parting words, she watched the creature melt under his touch, curiously content to once again lie docile as a lamb. What sway he had over the snake, it was hard to say, but that was hardly the most pressing issue at hand. With one last curtsy, she turned towards the door, her mind on the injured knight. She would have to find him and apologize for what he had been subjected to on her behalf--

“Give Ser Laenor my regards,” the prince called after her, almost as if he had read her mind. She paused at the threshold, tempted to look back to see if he was wearing that same smug expression he had been that night so long ago--but it was her self-control that won over in the end. Head held high, she made her exit, only answering the words hanging in the air behind her with a pointed slam of the door.


************


Finally in her own chambers at last, Aeranys let out a pensive sigh. Though she had nearly traversed the palace from end to end, her valiant efforts to find her knight had been less than fruitful. At the end of her search, she had visited his room in the hopes that he’d returned to rest for the night, but the only thing that had greeted her was the sight of an empty bed--a sight that sent morbid unease crawling her spine. Defeated by the deepening night she had made her way back to her own rooms, but what awaited her there was far from a peaceful respite.

Laying crammed to one corner of the large bed, the princess looked to the window. Night had long since fallen, and the moon was high in the sky, illuminating the spiraling towers of Sunspear in its cold glow. In her fingers, the black king piece twirled this way and that, following the same frenetic pace of her mind. Finally growing aware of her restless movements, she forced herself to stop, staring hard at the lone survivor of her beloved cyvasse set. “I am to be wed, Daeron,” she whispered, words she had uttered the day she had left the Red Keep. Though she had thought that she had fully grasped the situation back on that day drenched in dying sunset, it was a different sense of apprehension that seized her now. Her fate had not changed one bit, but now it was not some vague inevitability, but a concrete, visible reality.

The day was gone, and soon, the night would pass into a new day--and then, there would only be but one more setting and rising of the sun before she would be wed. Her churning thoughts and emotions led her to stumble through the corridors of her mind, keeping her awake; it was only when she had exhausted herself of worries that her eyes fell shut in slumber.

And then she awoke anew.

It was dark, but she could hear the sound of rain falling to the ground down below--feel it on her face, strangely hot. She thought she could hear--no, she could hear her name being called.

“Aer,” the voice came, faint and muffled, delirious, and for a moment she doubted her ears again before it sounded once more. “Where are you? It’s so cold. Aera…? I can’t breathe…”

She scrambled up blindly off of the ground--had she been lying down? It didn’t matter. In the pitch dark, she turned this way and that, searching for the voice.

“Aera, please. I’m scared.”

It dawned on her that the voice came from the ground beneath her. Throwing herself to the dirt, she clawed at the muddy ground like a madwoman, giving no thought to the way the grit tore into her nail beds, focusing only on the voice that was calling for her.

“Aer...I’m so cold…”

And then all at once he was in her arms, deathly cold and covered in soil, but alive. Alive, breathing, here. Caught up in a haze of disbelief, she dazedly pulled him to herself, her mind struggling to fathom it all. The rain streaked down her face, splattering onto his muddy cheek. “Daeron,” the trembling name bubbled up from deep within her before it fell from her lips, at last belonging to a boy who was not dead. “Daeron, Daeron, Daeron…”

His hands were weak as they clutched at her, his voice feverish and faint against her ear. “Don’t go, Aer,” he begged, and her heart sank at the sight of that familiar glassy look in his pale eyes. She knew that look--knew these words. “Please don’t leave me…” he whispered, sounding like a frightened little boy, and she burst into tears. These had been the words he had uttered in that last hour, fading in and out of delirium. Aeranys, for her part, could do little more than to repeat her own lines in a horrible encore.

“I won’t,” she pleaded desperately, her voice strained with sobs. She held him tight, craning her body over his as if she could forcibly prevent his body from giving up his soul. “I promise I won’t. I’m right here, Daeron. I’m never leaving you. So please don’t...”

But there was no fixing what had already been written in the past.

“Aer?” he asked, turning to her. The fever had left his eyes, and there was only an abrupt lucidity there. She knew that look, remembered the words he had breathed next, his last words filled with nothing but sweet concern--but those were not what fell on her ears next. “Liar,” he moaned, the anguished accusation ripping forth from his fragile body. Stunned, she could only hold him as he continued, staring up at her with an emotion he had never once held in his gaze. “Why did you break your promise? Why did you leave me? How could you abandon our home to wed another--how could you betray me like this?” he despaired, eyes brimming with hurt, and she too felt herself plunge into the same dark abyss.

“No, I--Daeron, please,” she choked out, but it was pure frantic horror that cut her off as he suddenly began to decay in her arms, his cheeks sinking and rotting as maggots burst through the pits of his eyes. The rain turned to blood as she began to scream, drenching her and blotting the world out in hot, steaming crimson.

She woke with a start, yanking herself free from the confines of her sheets and nearly tumbling straight to the unforgiving marble below. It was dawn, and she could see the sun as it teetered on the horizon, hemorrhaging red into the ocean--an image that only turned her stomach. Tendrils of hair clung to her face uncomfortably, damp with cold sweat and tears, and desperate to collect herself, she tried to push them away with shaking fingers. It was a dream. Nothing but a bad dream, filled with nonsense.

Still, her chest was tight as she forced herself to take in a slow breath, her movements purposefully measured as she retrieved the king piece from its place under her pillow. Squeezing it until she could feel the hard edges grind into her bones, she repeated the truth to herself like a mother would comfort a frightened child. It didn’t mean anything, that horrid nightmare. She knew her brother, didn’t she? She knew what sort of person Daeron had been. Kind, gentle, sweet--surely, he would have never blamed her for making the choiceless choice she had been given. And yet, no matter how much she tried to recall his last words to her, she could not get the sound of his dead, dead voice out of her head, accusing her--liar, liar, liar.
Title: Re: The Golden Sun and the Silver Moon [m]
Post by: asterin on January 31, 2020, 09:14:34 AM

*********


Not an hour later she emerged from her rooms, looking composed and collected as ever. Striding down the halls of Sunspear with her usual grace, she noted the great number of servants working madly to bring every inch of the palace to a brilliant shine for what would come on the morrow. Even in their rush, their eyes did not fail to trail over her as she walked by, though she never indicated that she noticed.
Her destination, however, was to disappoint her again, for when she knocked upon a certain door it yielded no answer, and what was within was--once more--an empty bed. However, the state of the bed was different from the night before, and with that reassurance giving her heart, she resumed her search.

She found him at last on the training sands that she had once seen little girls ground into, going through the forms she had seen many a young man being taught. Coming to a stop at the edge of the sands, she watched for a moment. As she had feared, he wasn’t able to move with the fluid grace he had been so lauded for, no doubt having been weakened throughout his imprisonment and illness. And yet, he seemed tireless in his exercise, enough for her to speak up sooner than she had meant to, fearing he would overexert himself. “Good morning, Ser Laenor,” she called. He turned toward her voice immediately, eyes wide.

“Princess,” he began, and it was clear from his expression and tone that this was perhaps the last place he had expected her to be. He bowed hastily, sheathing his sword as she approached him. “Milady, you will ruin your dress,” he added, eyes on the ground below.

“It is only dirt, Ser Laenor,” she assured him, but the knight was quick to lead her off the training sands and onto the paved stone rimming it.

“You’re awake early, milady,” the knight began conversationally, seeming rather eager to distract her from what he had been doing.

Unfortunately for him, his liege had little intention of letting the topic slip her by. “Yes, I seem to be waking at dawn recently--the sun seems brighter here than in King’s Landing,” she answered, keeping her voice cordial even as her eyes took on a knowing glint. “But I could say the same of you, Ser Laenor. I was looking for you.”

“Looking for me, milady?”

“Yes,” she nodded. “Last night, and this morning too.”

He fidgeted under her serene gaze, his eyes flicking away. “Forgive me, princess, I…” he struggled to find the right words that would explain his sudden absence without revealing what had occurred.

“I know my betrothed came to speak with you yesterday evening, to tell you about the ceremony tomorrow,” she admitted honestly. “I would be honored to have you by my side, but I didn’t mean for it to happen like this. I’m truly sorry, Ser Laenor,” she continued on to apologize, concern marring her brow. “I don’t know what he said to you, but I apologize for any offense done to your honor.”

For a moment the youngest knight of the Kingsguard seemed conflicted, but it quickly left his expression as he spoke. “He only spoke the truth, milady,” he remarked, tone solemn.

“Pardon?”

“If there is someone who should be seeking forgiveness, it is I, princess,” the knight bowed his head, eyes lowered to the ground. “I swore an oath to protect you, and I have been shirking my sworn duty.”

Aeranys, however, was quick to disagree. “It is not as if I am left unprotected, Ser Laenor. You are hurt, and I won’t have you making those injuries worse in the name of duty--I could never ask that of you,” she insisted firmly.

“I know you wouldn’t, princess,” the young knight smiled in a strangely bittersweet way. “Perhaps I allowed myself to be indulged by your kindness. But Prince Mors reminded me that a knight is loyal to their liege above all else.” His eyes rested on the face of his princess, whom he’d been devoted to long before he had entered the Kingsguard. “In a dire situation, his knights would choose him over you without hesitation. He wanted someone by your side who would choose you each time.” The Targaryen girl remained silent, her pale eyes studying his face as if to check for falsehood. “If talk of duty cannot sway you, please think of it as granting a wish of mine, milady,” he added, a formal plea. “Allow me to be selfish, if you will.”

After a drawn-out pause, Aeranys finally relented, albeit reluctantly. “If that’s what you truly wish…” she murmured.

The knight bowed at the waist, remaining ever-so-gallant despite it all. “Thank you, milady,” he returned, his tone quiet but heartfelt.

A hush fell over them, brooding and heavy as they both fell into their own thoughts. It was Ser Laenor who broke the silence, giving voice to what had been lying heavy on his mind. “Prince Mors,” he began, a complicated mixture of emotions flickering in his eyes at what he was about to admit. “I think he wants you to be happy, milady.”

“Yes, so he’s said,” she replied demurely, though the air of detachment couldn’t go undetected. The blond young man glanced at her lovely face which remained unaffected and unreadable.

“I think he means it,” he found himself saying, even as he wondered why he felt the need. After all, right or not, his opinion of the Dornish Prince that would be marrying his princess was still a far cry from favorable.

“It’s strange,” she remarked. She paused, then turned to meet the knight’s confused gaze. “I don’t see why he’d concern himself so much with that.”

“With your happiness, princess?” Laenor confirmed, looking rather stunned. For the Velaryon boy who wanted nothing more than her happiness, who thought she deserved nothing less, her dismissive attitude was a shock. Of course, he could never tell her so, lest his heart give itself away. “Isn’t it natural for one to want their bride to be happy rather than miserable, milady?” he asked, picking his words carefully.

She looked at him and smiled, gentle and sad, but her eyes were far away. “Perhaps it is,” was all she said.

*********


When he had collected her from her chambers with the word ‘surprise,’ she hadn’t known quite what to expect. Indeed, never in her wildest dreams could she have anticipated the creature that now perched before her, tethered to a sturdy stand. It was possibly the largest bird she had seen, its plumage obsidian black and a fiery orange-red. While there were no reptilian features on the bird, she could see why they called these birds zaldrīzes hontes.

Slow and steady, she approached where it was bound, and though the bird was kept blind, it turned to the sound of her footsteps, keenly aware. “Hello,” she greeted it softly. Carefully, she reached up to tug at the straps that held the blinders in place that had supposedly been there from the time he had been hatched. The bird blinked its red-rimmed eyes, likely blinded by the sudden brightness that surrounded it, but within seconds it was watching her warily. “He said you were from Lhazar,” she continued, her tone calm and soothing as she spoke conversationally to the fearsome bird. “All the way from Essos. You’re a long way from your home and family, aren’t you?”

The bird craned its head forward, looking at her almost questioningly. “My name is Aeranys,” she supplied. She took a breath before she spoke up again, quieter this time. “I’m a long way from home, too.”

The creature, in turn, merely watched her unblinkingly. For a stretch there was only silence as they watched each other, a delicate princess and a fierce bird of prey, seemingly the most unmatched pair in the world. “I was told you’d serve me, that you’d die for me,” Aeranys began again, recalling the words Lysos Orlinar had spoken so grandly to her. “But I don’t need that. Perhaps we could be friends, instead?”

The suggestion had scarcely left her lips before the bird made a soft cooing noise, spreading its powerful wings as if to envelop her in its feathers. Aeranys blinked. Was this the signal she had been instructed to wait for? Taking hold of the tether about its large claws, she fumbled with the tie until it loosened, finally releasing the bird. For a moment it only looked at her, but then with an ear-splitting cry it took the sky in a burst of energy. She whipped around to follow it, but the stunned alarm she felt was quickly overridden by another emotion. It surged through the air, gliding on the currents that hoisted it upwards, and delight streaked through her like lightning. A bird had no place in a cage or tied to perch, she thought--it was meant to soar through the sky with no master but its own heart.

Her wistful thoughts were abruptly interrupted as the doors behind her were flung open, Ser Devran rushing to her side with blade in hand. “Are you hurt, Princess?” he asked, and Aeranys turned to see the rest of the men step out onto the balcony.

“No, I’m fine, but…” she trailed off, her gaze going from the merchant to her intended. The triumphant admiration she had felt dripped away into a rising sense of dread. The bird had been a gift, one with considerable effort and planning behind it, seeing that the merchant had travelled personally from Essos--a gift that she had lost.

“Fear not, my lady,” the merchant immediately reassured her. “He will return. He is yours now, after all.”

“I see. Thank you,” the princess nodded, but her eyes were already back on the bird, soaring higher and higher into the blue above them. Despite the merchant’s words, she could not help but wonder if the bird truly would return--in fact, she knew she wouldn’t be disappointed if it went on its own way, travelling the world at its own whim. How could she, when it looked so free?

While the chatter moved away into the distance, Aeranys knew she was not alone. Her intended came to her side, also leaning against the edge of the stone railing to look up at the bird swiftly growing smaller in the distance. “Does this please you?” he asked.

“Very much so, milord,” the young woman answered dutifully, loathe to look away from the sight above. But when his hand found hers, so gentle and warm she could’ve mistaken it for the touch of another long gone, she turned to meet his peculiar gaze. “Thank you,” she uttered softly, the simple words an apology and acknowledgement alike.
Title: Re: The Golden Sun and the Silver Moon [m]
Post by: Reigning King on February 13, 2020, 10:19:01 PM
“Don’t drop your shoulder.” Mors said as he circled his cousin upon the training sands of the Old Palace.  She held her form, adjusting as instructed, muscles tight and tense with muted force.  Obara had always been formidable, even as a small youngling.  She was broader and stronger than her sisters, with a handsome face and a short temper.  Standing alongside her sire, the Red Viper, and his other daughters, she seemed out of place.  She was not lithe and nimble as they were.  She had not the mind for politics nor a single romantic bone to be found within her imposing frame.  Mors often wondered what sort of woman her mother had been.  When considering her father and his lean, agile stature; it could be argued that she must have been a beastly barbarian of a woman.  Yet in her eyes, Prince Oberyn Martell shines through, cunning and quick of wit.  All four girls had the same eyes.  Regardless of the colour, they all looked on at the world through their father’s familiar, steady gaze. 

“Good.” He uttered encouragingly, shoving at her back to ensure stable footing and solid core from his pupil.  “Now, from the beginning.” Stepping back from the eleven year old, Mors raised his sparing tools, which consisted of a short blunt staff and a wooden practice shield.  She squared her shoulders to him and compensated in kind with her footing, dark eyes locked firmly on her eldest cousin. 

“Parry right,” he instructed, holding out the wooden staff for her to knock away.  “Left,” he said next, moving the wooden staff to her opposite side.  As she counter moved against him, warding off the short staff, Mors raised the wooden shield before her.  “Strike.” He added at last, bracing himself against the powerful blow from her blunted training spear.  She had been growing more robust and tenacious.  Already, at the tender age of eleven, the top of her head reached as tall as Mors’ shoulder.   Obara would grow taller still before she reached womanhood.  Her awkward footing in recent days and the soreness behind her knees indicated she was due for another growth spurt. 

“Parry left, right, strike.” Mors continued, moving around the young warrior.  “Parry right, left, strike.”  He added variance to the height and distance at which he placed her targets, forcing her to improvise her footing.  “Parry left, right, strike.” She moved fluidly, each step and accompanying thrust of her spear controlled.  “Parry right, left…” As she moved to counter the staff her cousin held out to her, quick feet side-stepped the brawny girl and caught her in the side beneath her ribs.  She grunted and stumbled back, furrowing her brow and glowering at her cousin. 

“That’s not fair.” Obara complained as she rubbed at the tender place where Mors had stuck her with the end of his staff.  “You tricked me.”

“A clever opponent will always try to trick you.” Mors returned, twirling the staff beneath his arm before falsely lunging right only to tap her again on the same sore spot on her left.  “Watch the feet and the hips.  They will tell you what’s coming.”  Taking a deep, calming breath through her nose Obara squared herself to her cousin once more.  This time, her eyes flicked to his lower half in studious calculation. 

“Parry right, left, strike.” Mors repeated, running once more through the training exercise.  “Parry left, right, strike.” He said again.  “Parry right…” As he spoke, his body moved in the direction opposite what his words had suggested.  Ever the quick study, Obara watched his feet, expertly countering with her own footing before she parried her cousin’s staff forcefully.  Following, she darted around him, aiming to return the favour and strike Mors’ in the side, but he was faster than her and blocked the blow with the wooden training shield.  “Very good, Obara.”  Mors praised, an approving satisfaction painted across his sweaty face.  “Very good.” He said again.  “You’re getting much better.” 

“Thanks to you.” Obara replied, a smile that could have almost been sweet tugging at the corners of her lips. 

“No.” Mors corrected his cousin, dragging a sleeve across the dampness of his forehead.  “Thanks to you.  I could teach technique to anybody, but you’re a true warrior.  You always have been.”  As he spoke he tucked his training staff under his arm and reached his free hand out to muss the ratty brown hair she had bound into a loose knot.   “Let’s take a break.” He said next, the tender moment inspiring a touch of compassion.  “Where’s your sister?” Obara replied by pointing off to another area of the training arena where Ser Laenor moved through his formations, Nymeria standing just behind him.  She held her right hand against the small of her back, following along with Ser Laenor, utilizing her left hand exclusively as she imitated his formations.  As Obara sauntered off to replenish her waterskin, Mors set aside his staff and shield to meander over to where Nymeria stalked the foreign knight. 

“Ser Laenor,” Mors called as he approached, inspiring the young man to look up from his feet.  “It would appear you have a shadow.” He said.  At his words, Ser Laenor looked over his shoulder and at last noticed the little girl who had been pursuing him across the training sands, secretly learning from his left-handed wielding.  Upon being spotted, Nymeria tucked both her hands behind her back and smiled up at the blond-haired knight in her darling fashion. 

“Oh.” Ser Laenor remarked, surprise making his face awkward and asking.  “Hello, there.” He greeted politely. 

“How did you lose your hand?” She asked at once. 

“I think what my cousin means to say is,” Mors began as he placed a stern hand on her shoulder and pinched at the muscle in subdued chastisement.  “Hello, my name is Nymeria.”

“Hello, my name is Nymeria.” The little girl parroted obediently. 

“Good day to you, my Lady.” Ser Laenor returned playfully.  “I am Ser Laenor, Knight of the Kingsguard.” He stepped back and bowed to her. 

“Ser Laenor lost his hand protecting Princess Aeranys.” Mors informed his cousin, his grip on her shoulder loosening into a gentle touch.  As Ser Laenor nodded along in confirmation, something brave and inspired landed softly upon Nymeria’s pretty face. 

“My sisters and I will help you protect her.” She affirmed, holding a closed fist over her heart in solidarity.  “Five hands are better than one.” Nymeria added with a cheeky wink. 

“Right, you are.” Ser Laenor replied, smiling.  “Thank you, my Lady.”

“You’re welcome.” Nymeria returned with a nod before slipping out from under her cousin’s hand and darting after her elder sister, seeking similar refreshment from the water basins. 

“Your cousins are remarkable girls.” Ser Laenor noted, his indigo eyes flicking to Prince Mors.  “They train as hard as any man.  No doubt they’ll make challenging wives for lucky men one day.”

“You think my uncle asks me to train his daughters so they’ll make good wives?” Mors asked, arching an eyebrow and looking to the knight as his side in curiosity.  Ser Laenor had no response beyond a blank stare to return.  “My, what a curious world you come from, Ser Laenor.” He observed. 

“I would say that your world is the curious one, my Lord.” Ser Laenor said carefully. 

“You should take a break.” The young Martell Prince said suddenly, changing the topic.  At Ser Laenor’s visible reluctance he added, “what if I should command it?”

“I recognize no command save for that of Princess Aeranys.” Ser Laenor replied.

“As you say.” The Golden Fang returned, approval touching on his features and inspiring a returning smile from the Valeryon Knight.  It had been a test and Ser Laenor had passed. 

“Mors!” Came a voice, shouting across the training sands.  Prince Mors looked over his shoulder to see Ser Devran rushing towards him in haste.  Casting a sideways glance at Ser Laenor, Devran leaned in close and whispered into his friend’s ear.  At once, a dark shadow fell across Mors’ face.  Exchanging a meaningful look with his sworn sword, Mors turned to shout at his cousins from across the yard. 

“Girls!  Train with Master Toyne.  I have business to attend.”  The young girls nodded in unison before turning to the Master at Arms, who bowed to Prince Mors and waved to his son beside him before stepping onto the sands himself.  “Ser Laenor.” Mors added in polite parting. 

“My Lord,” Ser Laenor uttered, returning the sentiment. 

As Prince Mors Martell marched down the stone pathways that would carry him to the decorated halls of the Old Palace, Ser Laenor wondered into whose flesh the Golden Fang would sink his teeth this day.

(https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/7lWl1TsyxynR4M33OIkexTbR0UCnA5haZhmT0AgHG0wnBAOtRLwqYJK8I0Zo9iaF4HTmstA3AnPIUzJ8PPa16T0qobrEfwxZVlCen7UKICjyOMhIEEijte0u_bvzKrlAvBxSpzJc)

The Dornish Prince allowed himself to be escorted through the palace, the stone halls leading him to Princess Aeranys’ own chambers.  Guards stood at the doors to the Targaryen bride’s rooms.  They stepped aside and readily allowed Mors to step across the threshold and into the bedchamber whereupon he saw Arika, lounged upon a luxurious chair meant for his future wife, her dark curls cascading over her narrow shoulders.  At the appearance of the Lordling to whom she had played courtesan, she rose from where she was seated, her thin lips painting a coy smirk across her comely face.  She was flanked by guardsmen, Dame Natari among them.  As Mors glared at the girl who stood before him, Ser Devran’s sister broke from her ranks and stepped towards her liege.  Once at his side, she handed off a small vial to him.  It took only the briefest of glances for Prince Mors to discern at once what was contained within the glass receptacle.  Rage mounting, he waved a dismissive hand to the guards in the room who made a swift exit, Ser Devran and Dame Natari the only ones to remain at the Dornish Prince’s side. 

“Where did you get this?” Mors asked the girl before him, but she only stared back at him in silence.  “I assume you’ve poisoned the food, the wine and her wash basin as well.” He mused out loud, voice tensed like a coiled snake.  “What else?”

When Arika only shrugged in response, Mors continued saying, “I could have your head for this.  You know that, don’t you?”

“Just so long as you promise to kiss me before you slit my throat.” Arika replied mischievously, pushing her curls back behind her ears to expose her neck to her lover. 

“Ellaria won’t be able to protect you this time.” Mors cautioned the petulant teenager. 

“You don’t scare me, Mors.” Arika returned, resting her weight against one hip and crossing her arms over her chest.  “You may have everyone else fooled, but not me.  You’ve never cared for delicate things.” 

Prince Mors Martell let the heat of his anger evaporate into the air, replaced by a steely indifference.  Turning to Ser Devran he gave the quiet instruction of, “have Princess Aeranys moved to my mother’s rooms.”

“You would bestow an honour like that upon her?” Arika scoffed and rolled her eyes but Mors did not react to her words.  He didn’t even flinch.  “She doesn’t love you, Mors.” Arika continued, pressing the young man before her, looking for something -- anything, from the Prince she so adored.  “She’ll be lying awake in your mother’s bed dreaming about fucking her dead br--”

He struck her. 

The blow from his backhand took her feet from under her.  Arika fell to the floor as her curls spilled into her face, clutching at the assaulted side of her visage as a yelp of pain echoed through the rooms and out into the hallways beyond.  No one uttered a word in protest.  The three who stood around the bastard-born consort merely looked on in mutual, detached disdain.  She took a few ragged breaths before steadying herself and rising once more to her feet.  He had split her lip with his knuckles, but she permitted the crimson to trickle down her chin and spill onto her chest unhindered.  Turning to the Dornish Prince who had abused her, she offered him the same coy smile she had given him at the outset. 

“I’m usually wearing less clothes when you get rough.  Should I take off my dress?” As the fires of rages were stoked back to life within his yellow gaze, Arika stretched her lips over her teeth and smiled triumphantly.  She tensed herself, preparing for the next blow, but what came next was not what she had been expecting. 

The Golden Fang poketted the glass vial subtly before reaching out and seizing Arika by her raven curls violently.  Without care he wretched her forward, dragging her from Princess Aeranys chambers none too delicately.  Screaming and kicking, her skirts tangled between her legs as he pulled her into the hallway, throwing her onto the floor.  She rolled onto her back and looked up at him, bracing herself for whatever violence came next.  The attention of both parties was captured however, by the sudden outcry of protest that came flying down the corridor towards them.  Ser Devran at once stepped forward, blocking Princess Aeranys’ path as she shouted her challenging opposition.

“Princess Aeranys, I am so sorry…” Arika began, crawling on hands and knees, tears pooling in her eyes on command and spilling down her cheeks, mixing with the blood dripping from her lip.  “I was told to turn down your sheets, I didn’t mean to spill your wine, I’m sorry, I’m so --” She yelped again as Mors reached down to take her by the throat. 

“Enough,” the Dornish Prince spat, thrusting her back onto the cold, stone floor.  The act inspired further objection from Princess Aeranys, who fought against the knight who held her back.  “Get her out of my sight.” He commanded.  It was Dame Natari who stepped forward first, her usually warm and smiling face iced over into an expression of scornful contempt as she grabbed the young girl under the arm and hoisted her to her feet.  The men beneath her command followed in kind, surrounding the bleeding, wailing creature they hauled off to some far reaching corner of the Old Palace. 

Turning back to his betrothed, still wearing the sweat of his afternoon spent training with his cousins, he didn’t bother to offer her any words of comfort.  Instead he turned his attention to his knight, telling him, “take a walk.”

As Prince Mors showed his back to Princess Aeranys and stalked down the halls in the direction in which they had dragged off Arika, Ser Devran turned to the courtly Lady he had held at bay.  “Come, Princess.” Though his voice was gentle and asking, she wasn’t really being given a choice. 

Title: Re: The Golden Sun and the Silver Moon [m]
Post by: Reigning King on February 13, 2020, 10:19:54 PM
(https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/7lWl1TsyxynR4M33OIkexTbR0UCnA5haZhmT0AgHG0wnBAOtRLwqYJK8I0Zo9iaF4HTmstA3AnPIUzJ8PPa16T0qobrEfwxZVlCen7UKICjyOMhIEEijte0u_bvzKrlAvBxSpzJc)

Clunk.

Ellaria Sand sat at a finely crafted table topped with painted glass as a small vial was set upon its surface.   Her dark hues flicked from the trinket to the young man who had placed it before her.  She pursed her lips, reclining against the chair in which she sat, crossing one leg over the other.  Folding her hands upon her lap she looked up at her lover’s nephew with a pleasant expression that contradicted her pointed gaze.  Smiling at him she asked, “have you brought me a present, Mors?”

“How did she get it?” The heir to Dorne asked in return harshly. 

“I’m sure I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Ellaria answered, the same pleasant expression held upon the lovely face that had captured the Red Viper’s heart. 

“No more games.” Prince Mors returned sternly.  “I want her gone.”

“Arranging a suitable match can take time.” She countered, some of the pleasantness slipping off her face, replaced with irritation and dread. 

“I can think of many Lords who wouldn’t mind having another consort in their court.” There was no warmth to be found in Mors Martell’s serious voice, only anger brewing in his golden eyes.  Whatever Arika had done this time, she had pushed him too far. 

“A month ago she was the apple of your eye.” Ellaria pointed out with a wry grin.  “Now you’d see her made into a nobleman’s whore?”

“She tried to poison Princess Aeranys.” He told her bluntly.  The surprise in her face at the words seemed genuine, but Mors could never be sure what was true and what was false with the Paramour of Oberyn Martell.  It was safer to assume that the clever woman knew everything, especially with regards to her troublesome chambermaid.  “I’d sooner see her dead.” 

“Please Mors, be reasonable.” Ellaria tried, uncrossing her legs and leaning across the table.  “You had to know this would happen.  Arika is a very sensitive girl, and she loves you dearly.”

“Like I said, no more games.” Mors replied as he reached out to replace the vial within the pockets of his trousers.  “Find a new place for her, or I’ll find a hole in the desert for her.” With those words, he left Ellaria Sand to her solitude. 

It wasn’t until the afternoon had waned into the early hours of the evening that Ser Devran and Princess Aeranys left the Water Gardens and returned to the Old Palace.  It had been a squire who had found the pair and whispered secretive instructions into the knight’s ear.  When he escorted his charge back to her quarters, they were not the ones she had grown accustomed to, but a different set of rooms altogether.  The doors that he guided her to were much closer to the Prince’s own chambers than her previous accomodations had been.  Turning the handle and swinging the intricately carved wood inward, he gestured for the Princess of King’s Landing to enter but as she passed Ser Devran to step across the threshold she hesitated.  Perhaps, it was the small feast prepared and laid out upon the long table within that gave her pause.  More likely, however, it was the young man who stood at the opposite end to the room with his back turned to the door, gazing out at the flickering lights of the Shadow City beneath.  He donned fresh, clean tunics and smelled of citrus oils.  Turning at the sound of the opening door, he wore his usual mask of inscrutable emotion. 

(https://media.giphy.com/media/MCdjzfvLIdKp3QQ8AK/giphy.gif)

“Thank you, Ser Devran.” Prince Mors said calmly, looking past the young woman who stood before him.  Bowing, the Dornish knight made his exit, practically closing the door against Princess Aerany’s backside. 

“I’m afraid your chambers have been spoiled.”  He told her as he moved from the window to step around the table, his hands clasped behind his back.  “You’ll be staying here until other arrangements can be made.”  The voice he spoke with was calm and even, reminiscent of the version of Mors that Princess Aeranys had first encountered in her father’s court so many years ago.  The warmth had gone from his gaze along with whatever nectar Mors had been trying to sap from his black heart in recent days.  “I’ve had your effects moved on your behalf.”  Stopping his stride at one of two places set at the table, he pulled his hand out from where it had been resting behind his back to position a single piece from what was surely once a well-crafted cyvasse set upon the table’s surface, alongside the silverware.  “I don’t think I forgot anything.” He mused knowingly, allowing a finger to linger on the piece’s top before reaching for the chair, pulling it back from the table invitingly. 

“Please.” Prince Mors said graciously, gesturing to the cushioned seat.  He could feel the tension growing thick between them as she neared him and lowered herself at her place, her betrothed tucking in her chair.  Next, he moved for the wine, reaching around her and uncorking the bottle with a muted pop.  As he poured the Dornish reds into her goblet, his pale eyes, golden in the candlelight, found hers. 

“These rooms were once my mother’s.”  He told her, his cadence casual in spite of the heavy atmosphere.  “I trust you’ll treat them kindly.” He added as he lifted the edge of the bottle’s mouth from her goblet and crossed to the other end of the table to fill his own.  Mors did so in silence, taking his seat across from Princess Aeranys with all the nonchalance of a seemingly carefree man.  He cut into the meat which was situated on the table between them, portioning out his own plate whilst his intended sat stoically; silent and unmoving.  Mors let the quiet linger for a little while longer between them, filling the painted porcelain before him, until at last he broke the tension. 

“Go ahead.” Prince Mors Nymeros Martell prompted the Princess he dined with, bringing his goblet to his lips and sipping at the wine.  “Ask me.”
Title: Re: The Golden Sun and the Silver Moon [m]
Post by: asterin on March 14, 2020, 06:29:39 AM
When Princess Aeranys was led back to her room, she was greeted by the sight of a half a dozen seamstresses, all-too-eager to get their hands on her. What with the ceremony being on the morrow, everything had to be finished before dawn broke. Unfortunately, the beleaguered dressmakers knew that they would be working their fingers to the bloody bone until the late hours of the night to complete what was currently only a loose shift of a dress. They had only just finished the orders for the princess’ wardrobe, now filled to the brim with fine Dornish silk gowns, but they were well aware of the fact that this dress would be the most important of them all. Much like the princess that they layered silks and pins onto, they hadn’t thought that the wedding would be happening so soon. Their panic was almost palpable in the air, and the pale-haired girl stood as silent and compliant as a doll throughout the whole frenzied ordeal.

The moment they rushed off to continue working in earnest, it was Septa Oranea who came to collect her next, taking her down to the Sept to guide her through the path that she would be walking during the ceremony. The Sept was also bustling with activity, dozens of people bringing every inch of the grand place to a shine. They parted for the towering Septa and her willowy charge as they stepped through the vast space, but they never failed to steal a second glance towards the girl who would officially be wed to their beloved prince.

Aeranys was careful to pay attention to Septa Oranea’s measured words as she explained what would be expected of her during the ceremony. Though her calm and stern tone was one that inspired attention, once the Septa moved onto the proceedings of the wedding ceremony itself, which the princess was more than familiar with, Aeranys found her focus slipping.

As her gaze wandered over the constant rush of workers, she could see that the flow was momentarily disturbed on one side as people mindlessly stepped around an obstacle. As her eyes probed the odd spot, she could soon make out a certain figure in between hurrying legs and swirling skirts--he worked with his head downturned, facing the floor he could not see as he scrubbed away the filth that might have never been there in the first place. Even from the distance she could tell that his hands were red, worse off than the cracked and blistered skin she had seen only a few days prior. Her chest tightened, but before she could quite act on the feeling--or even put a name to it, in fact--another figure had approached her, commanding her attention.

“Princess Aeranys,” the High Septa greeted her, standing tall and elegant in her white robes.

The princess curtsied respectfully, offering her own demure greetings, but it could not compare to the way Septa Oranea greeted the High Septa, pious and reverent.

“I’ve been waiting for you to arrive,” High Septa Nysah continued, her voice ever-stately. “I assume your other matters in the Sept are finished?”

Aeranys turned to look up to the dark-skinned Septa at her side, who only bowed her head before excusing herself, leaving her alone with the High Septa. “Come,” the older woman intoned, only a touch of warmth in her stern, ringing tones. Following her lead, the princess trailed up the winding stairs at the very back of the sept, leading to a secluded second story that looked down upon the bustling ground floor below. At this height, they almost stood as tall as the Seven themselves, able to peer upon their graven faces with a greater intimacy than anyone knelt among the candles would.

The High Septa strode to her elaborately carved writing desk, sitting down before reaching up and removing the glittering headpiece that adorned her head. Though such an action would have made most figures pale in regality, the way the High Septa sat in her seat, poised and collected, did more to speak to her character than any of the things she wore. After a beat, she gestured to the cushioned seat before her, beckoning the young woman to sit. Aeranys obeyed, feeling the High Septa’s piercing dark gaze resting measuringly on her face. “You seem to be faring better with our prince,” she started, a note of reserved approval tucked away in her voice. “Have the Seven blessed you with words of guidance?”

Faring better? It was difficult to say if that was true, but by all public means, it must have seemed so. In that case, Aeranys was not foolish enough to break that illusion. “If they have given me guidance, it was in a way other than a direct message,” she answered humbly. “Unfortunately, the gods do not speak to me as they do you, milady.”

“Other ways?” the dark-haired woman repeated, her brows arching ever-so-slightly. “Have you received counsel by those who know our prince well?”

“Why, yes…” Aeranys trailed off, pausing as she thought of what to say.

“Speak up, child.”

The words were stern, truly the tone of one who had brought those unruly and headstrong to heel, and the princess yielded the answers she sought. “I hesitate to call all the counsel I received to be from divine knowledge, milady, as some of it proved contrary to the fact.” The septa said nothing, but her gaze prompted her to explain further. “I was told by more than one person privy to the prince’s inner circle that I must never disturb him while he was in his private study. And yet when I did not heed their warning, I was greeted with nothing but courtesy.”

Unlike her former answers, this one seemed to unsettle the High Septa in some way. “You went into his underground study?” she questioned, her voice ringing more like iron than hymns. “Is that true?”

“Yes, milady. Just the night prior.”

“Then I imagine you saw what was inside,” she concluded, her lips pursing together.

“If you mean the serpents, milady, yes,” Aeranys responded, keeping her voice calm and neutral despite the feeling that she had made a misstep in some form. “He seems to have quite an affinity for them.”

High Septa Nysah only fell into a brooding silence, her gaze elsewhere as the seconds passed. Clearly, this all meant something to her--what, Aeranys could not venture a guess. When the stillness was finally broken, it was by the older woman, who had turned back towards her with something different in her eyes. “This time I have counsel for you, Princess Aeranys. Will you hear it?” she inquired.

“Of course, I welcome your words of wisdom,” the young woman responded, speaking what would have been the only acceptable answer to give.

The septa nodded, but her eyes already seemed far away. “Our prince has always loved those creatures,” she started, her voice strangely subdued. “Even when he was a little boy. His lady mother, however, abhorred them. They terrified her, but her son would take any chance he had to bring them inside them to make them pets. She didn’t want them near her--she didn’t want them near him, either. And so she instructed his Septa to act accordingly.”

There was a pause, a breath, and though she still appeared lost in her memories, another emotion flickered by her hard face. “I knew her. I knew her well, his Septa. Septa Maygen.” A smile, sad but warm, dawned on her lips. “There wasn’t another septa that embodied the Seven’s graces as she did. She was my dearest friend, one that could never be replaced.”

For a moment there was another pause, longer than the former. This time, the warmth seemed to seep from her face with each word spoken. “I remember the day like it was yesterday. He found a small green serpent in the grass during his lessons, and as he was wont to do, he picked it right up. He’d done so many times before, and Maygen had warned him time and time not to do so. So when she saw him playing with the creature, she snatched it away and crushed it under a rock.”

“It was but a little thing,” she uttered a half-hearted laugh, her dark gaze finally meeting hers for the first time since she had begun to tell her tale. “Others wouldn’t have given another thought to it. I wouldn’t have. But when we ate our midday meal together, she told me she felt troubled about the whole affair. That was Maygen--she could be so soft-hearted, even when she had acted in discipline. I remember once she took a rod to another child, and afterwards she was so upset…” the High Septa trailed off, but then having caught herself straying in the corridors of memories finer than the one she was recounting, she straightened her course. “She went up to the dormitories to rest, and it wasn’t long before I followed. I thought--I thought I would be able to comfort her.” There was another heavy silence, heavier than the rest, dripping with the dread of what was to come.

“When I entered our room, there was our prince, a boy of only six years and a handful of moons. Covered with blood from near head-to-toe, a bloody rock at his feet. And in her bed, my Maygen lay. But at first I could not believe it was her, because her face…” she swallowed harshly, then forced the truth into the air between them. “None of her features remained. I tried to save her, but she was already long gone.” The memory was reluctant to fade, but when the septa looked away, the princess could see that she had returned to the room, though spent and heartbroken.

“You loved her,” Aeranys said quietly, because there could have been no other truth. She knew what loss sounded like, what it felt like to have such a large part of one’s heart torn away all at once, and she could recognize it so plainly written in her dark eyes, the way she spoke of her Maygen.

The High Septa looked up, meeting her gaze without shame or surprise. “I did,” she confirmed matter-of-factly. “I would have given my life for hers in a heartbeat if I’d been given the chance.”

“I’m sorry,” the princess offered solemnly. There was no more to say. She had been given many words during her period of mourning, fancy, pretty ones that had never meant a single thing--none of those eloquent sentiments would bring her brother back from the dead, nor would they plug his absence.

“As am I. But I did not tell you this for your sympathy,” the older woman answered, her posture straightening as she put her grief back into the casket buried deep in her chest. “Our prince loves those creatures, perhaps more than his own kind. His mother learned that the hard way, at the cost of Maygen,” she spoke, and a weary, wan smile ghosted above her lips. “Tread carefully, princess. One never knows if there lies a snake in the grass under your dainty feet, and one never knows the price you’ll pay, should you step upon it.”


(https://i.imgur.com/oU0lGQY.gif)

**********************
Title: Re: The Golden Sun and the Silver Moon [m]
Post by: asterin on March 14, 2020, 06:35:23 AM
Lost in her thoughts, the pale-haired young woman strode through the halls at a measured pace. The High Septa’s ominous tale couldn’t help but circle her mind, which was already swarming with the unsavory things she had witnessed firsthand. It had been a dreadful story, no doubt about it, but while it had horrified her, she couldn’t find it within herself to be surprised or shocked.

This was the boy who had went on to kill another lad during a tourney, the same boy who had grown up to be the young lord who had razed an island to the ground, who had claimed mercy as he launched a ship full of innocents into Shipbreaker Bay. How could she be surprised? No, it all made perfect sense, a terrible, terrible sense. Rather than any other emotion, she found herself weary, the same weariness the High Septa had shown for a vulnerable moment. Even the worry and the fear that she should’ve been feeling--this very person was to be her husband in less than a day--seemed to be dulled by the fatigue that seemed to reach the core of her bones.

All she wished was to be alone now, to let herself enjoy the stillness and quiet that would no doubt soon be taken from her, and maybe even coax herself into a bit of slumber. Perhaps there was little reason to wonder why she was so tired; her night had been uneasy and restless, only to crescendo into nightmarish heights. As she turned the corner towards the corridor that would take her to her quarters, she felt herself relax slightly, knowing that the end was soon in sight--

A sharp sound rang out, and Aeranys stopped short in her stride, her heart lurching sickeningly within. All thoughts of sleep left her mind and the princess immediately darted forward, her pace hurried and purposeful as she hounded the sound she had heard--a sound that was all too familiar to her. Even as a child, she had never done anything but run towards such a cry, never once thinking to hesitate or turn the other way.

As she rushed down the hall, she caught sight of a group of soldiers standing beside a door. Not any door--her own quarters. A frown creased her brow, and pursing her lips, she started towards them. What was going on? Could the scream she had heard some from her chambers?

Her question was to be answered as another scream ripped into the air--this time, it did not stop as the doors were flung open and a girl was dragged out by the hair, thrashing and shrieking. It only took a split second for her to realize that the young man who had sent the girl tumbling to the marble below was none other than her own betrothed.

Her shock did not last long, however, because what came hot on its heels was outrage, sparking to life deep in her gut and exploding outwards and giving voice to her fury. “Stop! What is the meaning of this?!” she shouted as she stormed forward, intent on throwing herself over the girl if that was what it took. Unfortunately, it was then that the prince’s trusty knight sprang into motion, coming forth to block her path. Aeranys attempted to brush past him, to no avail. “Let me through,” she hissed, glaring up at the knight, who merely looked down at her, stony-faced. Her attention, however, was completely diverted at the sound of the girl’s voice, trembling with fear and sobs.

“Princess Aeranys, I am so sorry...” the young thing was crawling pitifully towards her and the princess tried to force her way through to her again, trying to reach her. While Aeranys didn’t recognize her, that was hardly the least of her concerns, not with her tears and the split lip dribbling crimson blood--in that instant, she was no different from poor Serra or her own battered mother. “I was told to turn down your sheets, I didn’t mean to spill your wine,” she pleaded desperately, and Aeranys’ eyes snapped up to the prince’s visage. How dare you? they seethed a thousand times over, but before she could say them, the Martell prince grabbed the sobbing girl by the throat, cutting off her pleas.

The girl yelped and Aeranys cried out in unison, now struggling against the knight who was restraining her. She half-feared that he’d kill her then, and that she would see her crumple to the ground like a broken doll, like Serra, dead, dead Serra. “Leave her be, get away from her!” she raged, her hand balling up tight as it once had around the handle of a knife long ago. Get away from her, she’d snarled as she bared her teeth, more beast than girl. I won't let you touch her, not ever again!

The young girl was thrown against the hard floor again, and she barely seemed to have the presence of mind to flinch or recoil. “Don’t touch her--let me go!” she cried, turning to attempt to wrench her arm free of the vice-like grip that kept her from intervening. Aeranys’ desperate gaze then landed on a figure standing by, a soldier at the ready. It was Dame Natari, who only looked on sternly. “Dame Natari--Natari, please!” she begged. How could she watch this girl being hurt and do nothing? But the female knight, who had seemed so good-natured and friendly, did not move until her prince gave the order to take the girl away.

The prince turned to them and Aeranys did not bother to doctor her expression, fixing him with a furious glower, chest heaving from exertion and anguish. He said not a thing to her, barely even glanced at her, only looking to his knight. “Take a walk,” he ordered, spinning on his heel and striding off after the soldiers and the unfortunate girl.

“Come, Princess,” Ser Devran said gently, his hand at the crook of her arm, but Aeranys jerked herself away from him, her jaw tight. While she did not attempt to chase after the prince, knowing all-too-well what would happen, her eyes still bored into the receding figure of her betrothed.

“Where are they taking her?” she demanded of the young man at her side, her gaze never shifting.

“I could not say, princess,” the knight said, also watching as his liege disappeared out of sight. Only then did the young woman turn to the Dornish knight.

“Can’t say? Or won’t say?” she retorted bitterly.

Of course, he gave her no answer. “Come now,” he repeated, his tone slightly firmer, and the pale-haired girl relented in cold silence, her features frosting over into a detached mask to hide what was still churning underneath.

(https://media.giphy.com/media/YOeB04v1m23eusaNeK/giphy.gif)


The Water Gardens were beautiful as ever in its lush green and sparkling fountains, but none of it reached the bride-to-be. She sat stiffly at the edge of a fountain, staring at the rippling water at her side. She said nothing, and neither did the knight. She did not look up even as someone approached, handing the knight a tray laden with items. It was Ser Devran who came to her side, setting the platter down onto the edge of the stone fountain. Sitting on the tray was a dish of what appeared to be fig cakes, along with a steaming cup of something fragrant.

“Thank you, but I’m not hungry,” she declined, her words polite despite her clipped tone.

“Just the drink, then, milady,” the knight encouraged. At her reluctance, he continued. “It’s herbal. Meant to calm the nerves.”

Realizing that it was a form of kindness, she finally took ahold of the cup. Carefully, she sipped at the hot beverage, taking in the earthy fragrance it emitted. “Thank you,” she said quietly. A small stretch of silence passed, finally interrupted by a short sigh from the lips of the princess. “I don’t understand how you can stand by his side,” she uttered plainly. While her voice had little trace of the raging fire it had held prior, there was still enough poison laced in her simple words to end a grown man. Ser Devran, however, did not seem much affected. 

“Forgive me if I venture that you misunderstand Prince Mors, milady--though that is not an uncommon thing.”

“Do I? Why don’t you enlighten me, Ser Devran,” she returned, though no part of her expected him to truly elaborate.

“I’ve been with Prince Mors for a very long time, since we were naught but boys. The prince has always been exceptionally skilled at seeing what lies underneath the outer layer of a person, milady, but the opposite is rarely true.” When he saw that the Targaryen girl hardly seemed moved by his words, he pressed on. “I wasn’t raised to be by his side, nor was the position assigned to me. Our paths crossed for the first time in earnest on the training sands. No boy was brave or foolish enough to dare to harm the future Ruling Prince of Dorne, but I was. I was always the stupid one among the boys,” he explained, and there was almost a hint of a wry smile in his voice. “If he were a cruel and vain boy, he could have had me punished for such an offense. Instead, he kept me at his side from that day on--gave me a place to belong. I’ve been by his side for almost the entirety of our lives, and so I can tell you with certainty that he always has his reasons.”

It was a sweet tale, sure enough, but it did not change that the same boy had bashed in his septa’s skull. Aeranys took another draft from her cup. “And so what is his reason for abusing a young girl, pray tell?” she tossed the question forth, her eyes probing the knight’s expression like a knife.

“He does nothing without reason,” he stated again, meeting her unsatisfied gaze. “Perhaps the day you understand that will come sooner than you think, princess.”


*******************


Though she had originally wanted nothing more than to chase down her betrothed in her anger, the moment the doors opened to reveal the figure of the prince, she found that she wanted nothing less than to have to suffer his presence. However, that was hardly up to her. Left alone with her betrothed once more, the young woman did not budge from where she had stopped short, her skirts still brushing against the wooden doors that had been closed on her.

“I’m afraid your chambers have been spoiled,” the prince began. “You’ll be staying here until other arrangements can be made. Aeranys only stared back at him stonily, silent. Spoiled--with spilled wine? Or blood and tears? Even as he went onto to explain that he had already had her possessions moved into these new chambers, she made no move to step further into the room--that was, until he revealed a very familiar item. The black king piece. Daeron’s piece.

Her feet spurred into action, darting two steps into the room before she came to a halt once more, regarding him warily. He only placed the piece down onto the table before him, watching her with those knowing eyes. “I don’t think I forgot anything,” he remarked, allowing a meaningful pause before pulling the chair out from the table, gesturing with a courteous invitation--an invitation that was meant to be little more than a command.

Her eyes flicked to the cyvasse piece, sitting innocently on the opposite end of the table, then back to her intended. After a beat, she finally deigned to obey, moving around the long table and lowering herself into the chair he held at the ready. She said nothing as he seated her, said nothing as he poured her a goblet of wine. She gazed at the ebony piece before her, well within her reach--but she did not move. The instant he moved back into her field of sight, however, her pale eyes were fixed upon him, watching with razor-sharp focus. He seemed unaffected, his demeanor nothing but nonchalant as he sat, carving the meat on the platter between them, serving her first like a perfectly well-mannered lordling would. Aeranys, for her part, did not even bother to touch the silverware in front of her, when she knew she ought to be playing her role, all grateful smiles and charming chatter.

Her mother would have been no doubt sorely disappointed, for the stately queen had never responded to an insult with anything but calm, impeccable manners. All throughout the princess’ life, Queen Rhaella had toiled; she had wrangled a wild child into a demure lady, tempered her into a bride who would suffer a husband no matter how boorish without faltering--and she had succeeded in creating her in her image--or so it had seemed. For Princess Aeranys knew exactly what she should be doing, but found herself exceedingly unwilling to give in.

“Go ahead,” he broke the silence first, giving her permission to dare to ask what was on her mind. “Ask me.”

She said nothing. She only stared at him, letting the air between them curdle into heavy silence. When her gaze finally shifted, it was back down to the cyvasse piece, which she picked up, absentmindedly letting it wander through her delicate digits. “You did,” she spoke at last in quiet challenge, though it was likely not what he had been anticipating, “forget something. My penknife, hidden on the left side of the bed.”

Along with the cyvasse piece and her mother’s bracelet, it was the only other treasure of hers to survive the harrowing journey from King’s Landing to Greenstone to Dorne, and just as she had in her captivity, she had kept it close by, always in reach during her most vulnerable state of slumber. Exceptionally skilled at seeing what laid underneath the outer layer? Perhaps it was so. It was true that he had seen past her veneer more than any other had, but he had yet to see through her. Her fingers closed over the king piece. Yes, he might have dug out a secret of hers, but he did not have them all.

Her lilac eyes met his oddly colored ones as she continued, her words cool and matter-of-fact. “Is she alive?” His answer of affirmation provided little comfort to her. After all, Aeranys had seen that a spared life did not mean one had been forgiven. “Then what punishment did you give her for the grave transgression of spilling wine?” she asked, her tone even despite the anger that flared up in her anew. “Did you take her hands, since she was clearly unable to use them properly?”

She didn’t want to hear his vague excuses; she did not think that he would say nothing that his trusted knight had not already said. Or, was he going to claim this was to remedy some shade on her heart? To make her less lonely? To make her happy? She wanted none of it. “How many more people will you punish in the name of my honor, milord?” the princess demanded sharply, refusing to turn her piercing gaze away. “In our short courtship, the numbers have grown at a frightening pace. How many more will it take? I find myself sick to the stomach at the thought. In fact,” she rose from her seat with the kind of poise that resembled a creature tensed to pounce, “if you would excuse me, I have much to think on.”
Title: Re: The Golden Sun and the Silver Moon [m]
Post by: Reigning King on March 16, 2020, 01:49:49 AM

“Is she alive?” Princess Aeranys asked her betrothed. 

“For now.” Mors answered in a measured voice, gauging the reaction upon her pretty face.

“Then what punishment did you give her for the grave transgression of spilling wine?  Did you take her hands, since she was clearly unable to use them properly?” She pressed further.

“No.” He answered plainly.  “Why?  Do you think I should?”  It was obvious by his tone that he was baiting her, provoking her in spite of the disgust and abhorration with which she was already regarding him.  Prince Mors had learned long ago not to waste his breath, trying to convince others that he was anything other than a monster.  What others thought of him was often an opinion not so easily changed.  The same, it seemed, could be said for his bride, his future wife. 

“How many more people will you punish in the name of my honor, milord?” She asked.  “In our short courtship, the numbers have grown at a frightening pace. How many more will it take? I find myself sick to the stomach at the thought. In fact,” as she spoke, she rose from where she had been sitting so stoically.  “If you would excuse me, I have much to think on.”

He made no move to rise from his own chair, but instead replied with a few choice words of his own.  Watching her with his calculating serpentine gaze he spoke saying, “I see.”  Leaning back in his chair he continued his observations, pointing out, “it would appear you seek to change the terms of our agreement.” 

“It is no longer enough that I be good to you,  I must also be good to everyone.”  As he spoke, he set aside the wine he had been sipping, folding his hands in his lap instead.  “A lofty request.”  The heir to Dorne pointed out.  “Especially, since you have failed to hold up your end of the bargain.” Princess Aeranys Targaryen did not reply in words, but instead turned from her betrothed and started towards the doors of the chambers he had made available to her.  As she moved into action, so too did Prince Mors.  Springing from his chair he met her at the threshold, pressing a hand flat against the doors and slamming them shut just as she sought to open them and make her escape.  He stood over her, looking down on her with that even, unreadable expression of calm contentment he so often donned. 

“I can only imagine what you must think of me.” The Golden Fang said to the woman who would be condemned to a life at his side before the sun set on the morrow.  “But that doesn’t change what I told you in the Water Gardens the other day.  I want to make you happy.”  Her expression gave voice to the disbelief she kept caged behind pursed lips.  “If that means small mercies, I will heed your request.”  He leaned forward, bringing himself closer to her, close enough to feel her breath upon his face.  “Will you heed mine?”  At her solemn, measured nod he righted himself once more and removed his hand from the flat of the door, reaching instead for the handle. 

“Until tomorrow, Princess Aeranys.” Bidding her goodnight, he excused himself from the rooms in which he had once been nursed by Mellario Martell, wife of the Ruling Prince of Dorne. 

Ser Devran Toyne stood outside the chambers, his expression one of concern for his liege.  As Mors started down the hallway, Ser Devran fell into step beside him.  Their company however, was short lived, as Mors halted in his stride and turned to his friend with a command upon his lips.  “A penknife.” He said in a voice that seemed tired.  “She hid it on the left side of her bed.  See that Septa Oranea brings it to her before the morning.”

“Of course.” Ser Devran answered.  As his liege nodded to him and started once more down the corridor, the Dornish Knight couldn’t help but trail after him.  “Mors…” He started. 

“Thank you, Devran.” The Golden Fang said quietly over his shoulder to his friend.  “But I’d like to be alone.” Ser Devran nodded and stayed his feet as Prince Mors continued past the candelabras of the hallway, disappearing around the corner. 

(https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/7lWl1TsyxynR4M33OIkexTbR0UCnA5haZhmT0AgHG0wnBAOtRLwqYJK8I0Zo9iaF4HTmstA3AnPIUzJ8PPa16T0qobrEfwxZVlCen7UKICjyOMhIEEijte0u_bvzKrlAvBxSpzJc)

(https://media.giphy.com/media/L1Qm5cxhYdd8VJ2gAN/giphy.gif)


As the dawn of the new day sent the radiance of the morning sun sparkling across Sunspear, the Old Palace buzzed with anticipation.  Lords and Ladies of the Dornish court primped and preened for the ceremony to come, ensuring that not a single encrusted jewel or lock of raven hair was out of place as they began their procession to the Sept of the Seven.  Flowers adorned each bare surface, streamers of red and gold hanging sweeping and criss-crossed from the chandeliers.  The High Lords of Dorne took their places within the Sept of the Old Palace, vying for positions that gave them optimal vantage of the proceedings to come.  Those individuals of higher status, namely the descendants of Princess Nymeria of the Rhoyne, were gathered at the head of the Sept where High Septa Nysah stood in patient stillness, clad in gowns of muted colour, detailed in resplendent gold threads.  All that was missing from the ceremony was the happy couple, who had not looked upon one another since the night before. 

The sun sat hot and bright in the sky, in spite of the clouds that gathered overhead, an indication of coming rain.  A sign meant to be a good omen for the coming union, if one believed in such things.  As the minstrels played a soft melody, echoed against the statues of the Seven that surrounded the Sept of the Old Palace, Mors Nymeros Martell entered with his entourage in tow.  He donned fine robes, more heavy and ornate than those he usually wore, the occasion calling for more formal attire.  His clothes were belted with a heavy gold piece, engraved with the Sun and the Spear of his House.  A matching medallion was fixed to the white, ceremonial turban that sat upon his brow, fixing the intricate wrapping in place.  Over one arm, a cloak of yellows and reds was draped.  Prince Mors looked the part of the dashing groom.  Seeing him now, there wasn’t a maiden among the masses who didn’t swoon.  Well, perhaps one…

Princess Aeranys entered the Sept of the Old Palace upon the arm of her Knight, Ser Laenor of House Valeryon.  They walked in step with one another down the centermost aisle that stretched the length of the Sept, Lords and Ladies looking on in curiosity, excitement and judgement alike.  Prince Mors’ father, aunt and uncle all beamed at the young woman as she passed them, though Ellaria Sand kept her expression twisted queerly at Prince Oberyn’s side.  All of their expressions were eclipsed by the giddy young girl who stood amongst her brothers, nodding and smiling in gentle encouragement to the girl who would soon become her sister, bound to House Martell and so too Arianne for all her days.  Ser Laenor escorted his Lady-liege to her soon-to-be husband, lifting her veil and draping it down her back before bowing to Prince Mors and descending the steps once more to take his place amongst the masses.  They faced one another before the Lords and Ladies of Dorne, before the Seven themselves, shimmering golds clashing violently with swirling amethysts.

“You may now cloak the bride and bring her under your protection.”  High Septa Nysah spoke in a clear, ringing voice that sounded more like the resonant tolling of bells rather than the melodious jingling of chimes. 

Princess Aeranys stood still as one of the marble statues from the Water Gardens, her gaze locked on some invisible point in the distance as Prince Mors stepped around her, unfolding the cloak from where it lay over his arm, resting it upon the shoulders of his bride.  The muted oranges of the Dornish desert unrolled themselves down her back, revealing the crimson Sun of Ny Sar pierce by the golden spear of House Martell.  Returning to her side, Mors and Aeranys squared themselves to High Septa Nysah in unison, who looked between the two young people with what must have looked to the distant crowd behind them to be an expression of dutiful acceptance.  Prince Mors could see it for what it truly was; dread. 

“People of Dorne,” she began lifting her gaze from the couple before her, raising her arms to the crowd she addressed.  “We gather in the sight of the Seven to witness the union of two souls.”  Bringing her eyes back down to the wedded pair before her, she looked to each of them as she went on saying, “one flesh, one heart.  Princess Aeranys of the House Targaryen and Prince Mors Nymeros of the House Martell.”  The High Septa brought her hands together before them, holding out a length of finely detailed ribbon, decorated in patterns of crimson and gold.  In unison, with the practiced cadence of two people completing a chore, Mors and Aeranys extended their hands, hers resting atop his. 

As High Septa Nysah wrapped their hands together with the ornately woven ribbon she spoke saying, “before the sight of the Seven, I hereby seal these two souls, binding them as one for all eternity.”  Righting herself, she folded her hands before her.  “Look upon each other and say the words.”

With their hands pressed against one another's, they faced each other before the Dornish court, their shared gaze like the clashing of swords or the striking of lighting.  Yet, in gentle tones they spoke as they were expected.  “Father, Smith, Warrior, Mother, Maiden, Crone, Stranger… I am hers and she is mine, from this day until the end of my days.”  Their words echoed in unity and as his lips stopped, Mors leaned down, bringing them to her face.  They did not find hers as would be expected during a wedding ceremony, but instead landed softly against her cheek. 

Just like that, she was his wife.  The newly wed couple turned to the crowd, shoulder to shoulder as the ribbon fell from their hands and their fingers drifted away from one another’s touch.  Applause poured forth from the Lords and Ladies of Dorne, but the merriment failed to touch upon the expressions of the husband and wife who stood beneath the Seven Pointed Star.   


Title: Re: The Golden Sun and the Silver Moon [m]
Post by: asterin on March 17, 2020, 08:40:23 AM
Unable to fall asleep, she turned onto her side for what felt like the hundredth time. Her betrothed had only left her with only more turmoil to rattle about in her head, and as the evening had deepened into night, she had grown more and more irritated--not with her betrothed, but with herself.

She had acted foolishly, and she knew it. Regardless of whether he had done something unspeakable, she should’ve known better than to let herself grow upset. Her mother had taught her better, hadn’t she? Had she forgotten what was riding on this marriage? The fates of her family, of the throne, of all the innocents that hung in balance. Knowing that, she should’ve held her temper at bay. Didn’t all their lives matter more than her silly feelings?

To top it all, however, she was haunted by what he had accused of her--that she had not held up her own end of their bargain. Despite having given him an affirmative answer at his final question, she feared that she didn’t understand exactly what he meant.

She rolled over again, her eyes finding the beautifully decorated ceiling. His mother’s rooms, he’d said. She had met Lady Mellario a handful of times before she had returned to her homeland. She’d always given her the impression of a kind-hearted woman, beautiful and well-spoken. Aeranys couldn’t imagine the lady having had a temper, and now the motherly atmosphere that had been steeped into the walls came inwards to suffocate her, ghostly mothers chastising her for being unladylike, and the princess could not bear to stay put anymore.

Rousing herself, she dressed herself as simply as she could, knowing that there would be more than just talk if she was spotted walking about in her night shift. Once she was appropriately clothed, she walked to the door once more, only to give pause. Turning, she went to a box sitting upon a shelf, and taking it down, she reached within to produce a small jar. Satisfied at last, she slipped out of the room and into the quiet beyond.

It was not so deep into the night, but many had retired early to their beds in anticipation of the long day to come. When she entered the Sept, however, she saw that another soul had been kept from slumber, as she had guessed. Hunched over in the candle-lit gloom, Croll Sand continued to scrub the stone floors, fumbling his way in between seats and decorations alike.

Her steps rang out in the empty space as she made her way down the long aisle--the very aisle she would be walking come morning. Approaching the towering form of the Mother, she knelt and lit another candle, offering up her prayers. She prayed again for her mother, for her brother, for Lyanna Stark and her unborn child. She prayed for the Lannister lioness who had been left behind and her young golden-haired nephew. She prayed for the nameless girl with the raven-colored ringlets. She prayed for wisdom, for patience, for understanding, for all the things her own mother had worked so hard to instill within her--all the things she had yet to master, it seemed.

When her prayers were spent, she stood to look for the unfortunate man, and upon spotting him beneath the Stranger, she approached him slowly, letting her footfalls herald her arrival. “Hello,” she murmured, to which his battered hands stilled, but only for a moment. His first instinct was to raise his face, but perhaps remembering how horribly disfigured he had become, he caught himself in the act, ducking his head down low. He stammered out something that might’ve been a greeting of his own, if his voice hadn’t been so hoarse and mangled with fear. “It’s late. Shouldn’t you retire to bed, good brother?” she asked, keeping her tone as calm as she could.       

“The Sept must be gleaming for tomorrow’s ceremony,” he answered, resuming his work with vigor. “I have been tasked with the floors.”

“They already gleam bright as mirrors,” she assured him, looking about the wide space. “No bride would ever dare complain.” When he still appeared reluctant to relinquish the task he had never asked for, she continued, her tone coaxing. “I would know. I am to be a bride soon.” Finally, his cracked and blistered hands came to a stop, though they still clutched tightly onto the worn brush. She knelt before him, gently sliding the jar she had brought along with her towards him. “This is for you.” His lips parted nervously, and she answered the question that was sure to come, reaching out and unscrewing the lid before placing it back in his reach. “It’s a salve, for your hands.”

In truth, the salve had been given to her by Septa Oranea once they had reached Dorne, meant to heal the bruises and gashes that marred her porcelain skin. She had dutifully applied it for a time, but once her cuts had scabbed over she had seen little use for it. Bruises faded on their own, and as for the wounds on her arm, she knew it would take more than some salve to erase them. If they ever faded, she knew it would take years before they would disappear for good.

After all, she still had a scar on the side of her thigh from an accident she had suffered as a girl no more than ten. Wanting to be like the Targaryens of old, like Daena the Defiant, she had hidden herself in an unused stable and tried to teach herself to shoot a bow. Of course, the draw weight had been too much for her, and when she managed to let an arrow loose, it had promptly careened into an iron pail and torn straight through the flesh of her leg. She had limped back to her chambers, blood soaking the trousers she’d filched from her brother’s wardrobe. Unfortunately for her, Maude had caught her in the act of trying to clean up--and the plump maid had fainted on the spot upon seeing the damage. Mother had her confined in her chambers for three weeks as punishment, she remembered.

She watched as the blind man tentatively brought the jar to his nose, no doubt catching a whiff of the herbs that had been ground into the salve. “Thank you, milady. Thank you…” he bowed his head in gratitude, his tired mouth stumbling about the words. He paused, perhaps debating what he thought to speak next. “...You’ve spoken to me before, haven’t you?” he ventured. Though Aeranys hadn’t been trying to hide the fact that they had indeed met before, it still took her by surprise that he had recognized her by voice alone. “May I ask who has been so kind to me, gracious lady?”

“No one of consequence,” Aeranys replied, unwilling to let him know that she was the reason he could not see for himself just who she was. “Just another girl, here to pray for guidance and mercy.”

“You must be very troubled, then,” he uttered, only to scramble to explain the sentiment that might have offended his mysterious benefactor. “I mean...not many would come to the Sept before such a grand event. So to be here, at such a late hour…”

She uttered a soft laugh, which seemed to put the blind man at ease. “I suppose you’re right,” the bride-to-be admitted. “My betrothed told me today that I haven’t been useful,” she continued frankly, her tone steady despite what she was saying, “and he isn’t very fond of useless things, I fear.” The princess managed to suppress the dread she felt back into the depths of her ribs, only allowing frown to crease her brow as her gaze drifted down to her own hands, folded neatly on her knees. “Truthfully, I don’t understand how I could’ve been useful to him. I’ve been taught to run a household smoothly, to bear and rear children--but there’s little I can do for him before we are wed.”

“Surely there are more uses for a woman than that,” Croll Sand spoke up bluntly, and Aeranys blinked. He sounded quite confused, but also more like a soldier than a broken man. “But being useful likely means something different for each person. Perhaps it means something different for your husband-to-be.” He paused, apparently having realized the words he was speaking. “I mean, not that I would know much about the matters of nobility, milady,” he hurriedly added, but he was once again reassured by the words the young woman spoke, her voice strangely contemplative.

“Yes, perhaps it does.”


***********************

(https://i.imgur.com/wjC1N8Q.gif)

As dawn brought tendrils of hazy pinks and oranges through the clouds, the bride stood leaning against her bed, gingerly regarding the dress before her. It was a splendid, beautiful thing, but the excitement that a young bride might have felt at the sight of it was completely absent within her. If anything, she felt ill, her stomach twisting and turning along with her nervous, homesick thoughts. She wanted nothing more than to hear Maude’s chatter, to feel her mother’s embrace, but neither of them were here on what could’ve been considered the most important day of a young lady’s life. She hadn’t anticipated these jumbled emotions, she, who had been able to put duty above everything else until she had met her betrothed. Still, Aeranys couldn’t back out, not even in her thoughts--not when she knew what was at stake. Everything rested on this, weighing on her delicate shoulders, and she felt it more keenly than ever. She had to carry on, even if her bones should crack and crumble under it all.

A strange clattering sound coming from a window jolted her out of her miserable thoughts. The emotion in her eyes went from alarm to suspicion to shock, and leaping up, she crossed the room to thrust the windows open. There, perched matter-of-factly on the marble sill, was the giant bird from the day prior. “You came back,” she breathed, disbelief in her tone. How had he known that she would be in this room and not any other? The massive bird crooned at her, fluffing its feathers and watching her with its sharp eyes. Carefully, she reached her hand out towards the bird, and it slowly leant forward, a cooing noise rumbling from its large body. Holding her breath, Aeranys felt a smile twitch at her lips at the contact--but just then, a sharp rap sounded at her door. “Princess?” the familiar voice called.

It was time to get ready.

“Come in,” she answered, pulling back from the bird and bringing herself to her collected poise. The door opened and a stream of women entered, headed by Septa Oranea. As they surrounded her to adorn her head to toe for the ceremony ahead, the princess stole a glance towards the window only to see that the bird had disappeared once more.

It was near an hour and a half before the princess was deemed ready by the numerous pairs of matronly hands. They led her down the short distance to the Sept, to a figure standing in wait outside its elaborate doors. Lifting her head, she recognized the young man as Ser Laenor, also decked out in his new suit of armor, looking every inch like a knight of the Kingsguard.

As for the pale-haired knight, he’d always known this day would come. From the moment he had met her, the princess had never been meant to be his, after all. He had accepted that long ago, at least, that was what he had believed.

(https://i.imgur.com/AEZVznY.gif)

But the moment he saw her, dressed in ivory and silver and draped in a silken veil, once again she was the loveliest, loneliest thing he’d ever seen. As she made her way to him, nothing less than a heavenly creature of myth, it was all he could do to step forward, for he found that all words had left him. She stopped before him, an apprehensive smile tugging at her lips as her haunting eyes pierced him through, and he felt his heart split wide open at the sight of her, bleeding and broken--and it was in that instant that Aeranys saw the truth laying in his eyes, plain as day.

He loved her, he’d always loved her--how could she have not known? How cruel and ignorant had she been to have him give her away? “Ser Laenor--” she began, her own heart breaking for the knight, but before anything more could be uttered, neither thanks nor apology, it was time for them to enter the Sept. The pair looked at one another for a moment longer, each doing their utmost to push down their complicated feelings. Heartbreak, fear, dread--all of it had to be put aside in the name of duty. Facing the doors before them, Ser Laenor held out his right arm and Aeranys took it, her slender hand resting gently in the crook of his elbow.

Then the doors opened, and they stepped inside. All eyes turned to them as they entered the Sept, a sea of gazes burning with interest. As hard as they might’ve stared, the bride seemed wholly oblivious, only looking ahead towards her purpose. At the far end of the Sept, she could see the Martell prince waiting, likewise dressed in elaborate garb. She too would’ve been forced to admit that he looked the part of a perfect prince and bridegroom, but nothing quite reached her, not with her heart pounding so loudly in her ears.

As she was placed beside her husband-to-be, her hand hesitated ever-so-slightly to slip from the crook of his arm. Still, smoothly, like dancers on a stage, the two foreigners to Dorne played their part. She could not bring herself to meet the knight’s eyes as he bowed, having completed his part--the two remaining, however, had much more left to their charade. They faced each other, their eyes locking together. Neither of them looked away.  “You may now cloak the bride and bring her under your protection,” a voice sounded far away, one that she belatedly recognized to be of the High Septa. Everything felt far away and distant, as if she was drowning. Her gaze shifted to the form of the Mother, but a prayer would not come to her mind; it seemed as if even this Mother could not be with her today.

But then there, nestled against the giant stone shoulder--there was something that did reach her. There, sitting as if it was the only place it should’ve been, was the bird. She blinked, wondering if she was seeing things, but it did not disappear. Another foreigner to this land, just like her--torn away from its family, just like her. Perhaps we could be friends, she had proposed to the bird, and suddenly, as silly as it seemed, it felt as if the creature was encouraging her to take heart, to be strong.

It was with this that she mustered the strength to turn to Mors Nymeros Martell, meeting his eyes over their woven hands as they were instructed to repeat the vows that would bind them together. “Father, Smith, Warrior, Mother, Maiden, Crone, Stranger…” she spoke in unison with the prince, her voice solemn but unfailingly steady. “I am his and he is mine, from this day until the end of my days.” Then, with a perfunctory kiss on the cheek, they were wed. The crowd applauded, congratulating their union, but to the royal couple whose hands failed to remain laced together, it did not feel much like a union at all.

Of course, just because the ceremony was over did not mean that the wedding was over. No, the day would be a long and arduous one, with a feast and festivities to follow. With the newly-weds at the front, the masses streamed into the Great Hall, their chatter already deafening to the ears. The aroma of the banquet to come was already in the air, but before the eating and drinking could start, there was another tradition to be carried out.

Once again the pair was made to stand at the front of the hall as the prominent lords and ladies lined up to wish them well and present them with gifts. It was a time-old tradition, but for a royal couple, especially for those who would one day rule Dorne, this was a crucial chance to show fealty and curry favor with them. Priceless gifts were offered, pretty words were said, and Princess Aeranys played her part impeccably, humbly showing gratitude with a charming smile. It did not matter how she felt about a gift or the occasion, or even the young man standing at her side--she would play her part, just as her mother before her.

As servants piled the lavish gifts before them, Aeranys allowed her gaze to wash over the long line that still remained. Many of these lords and ladies were unfamiliar to her, some of them having travelled from the farthest corners of Dorne to attend the special day. Fortunately for her, Maester Caleotte stood by, introducing whoever came up to them. Then something in caught her eye--a glimmer of something silver, though not metallic. Hanging from the neck of a Dornish lord waiting a handful of guests away, was an elaborate silver pendant with a large amethyst inlaid into it. The gem was splendid indeed, but it hadn’t been what had caught her attention--no, there was something else there set into the accessory--a thick braided loop of silvery-white that coiled around the jewel. A strange feeling overcame her at the sight of it, a feeling that turned into vague dread as she looked up to the visage of the man who wore it. He seemed familiar, somehow. Just who was he?
Title: Re: The Golden Sun and the Silver Moon [m]
Post by: Reigning King on March 20, 2020, 11:06:38 PM
(https://media.giphy.com/media/YrHMRajN8JEBfOAWII/giphy.gif)



“Lord Harman Uller,” Prince Doran greeted politely, nodding in acknowledgement from the place where he stood alongside his heir.  Mors cast a glance at the man who stood beside his father, Aero Hotah.  They exchanged words silently in their shared gaze before Mors turned back to the Lord of Hellholt who had come bearing blessings for the young couple.

“My Prince,” Lord Uller offered graciously, bowing to the Ruling Prince before turning to the young man who would inherit the title.  “It has been too long since I last saw you, Prince Mors.” He noted in a voice that was too cheery to be sincere.  “Thank you for having me.  It is fortunate that your wedding guests were already gathered for war…” The prickly aged man turned his cold, dark eyes onto Princess Aeranys next, letting his gaze linger on her for a moment too long.  The silver-haired beauty however, did not meet his eyes.  Instead her line of sight was tuned intently on the necklace Lord Uller wore around his meaty neck.

“Thank you for your presence and blessing.” Prince Mors returned patiently. 

“You’ll have to forgive my wife for her absence.  She is with child and unable to travel.” Lord Uller intoned, something in the twisting smile beneath his grey beard made the words taste like poison. 

“Again? My congratulations.” Mors replied, matching the edged tone of the Lord he addressed. 

“I have no shortage of bastards, but I have learned that it pays to have an extra true-born or two lying around…” The words were painted over with a smile, but Mors could see the murder swimming in his gaze.  “May the Gods see fit to bless you and your wife with many children.”

Prince Mors did not answer Lord Harman Uller.  They stood across from one another, locked in a silent stalemate.  If he was waiting for Mors to apologize for having taken his first true-born child from him, he would be standing there until they both turned to dust.  Instead, it was Doran who intervened, placing a hand on his son’s shoulder and uttering one final, polite, “thank you, Lord Uller.”

“Prince Mors, Princess Aeranys…” He bowed to each one in turn before turning away from them and descending into the crowded Great Hall.  The bastard sons he had brought with him followed in his wake, casting contemptuous glances to the heir to Dorne over their shoulders as they went.  Princess Aeranys stayed silent at her husband's side, only nodding along politely as would be expected of her.  Yet, Mors did not fail to notice how she watched after Lord Uller even as he disappeared into the throngs of wedding guests. 

Behind the newlyweds, their sworn swords stood side by side, watching the proceedings from a distance.  Quietly, beyond the reaching ears of those around them, Ser Devran turned to the pale-haired Knight beside him.  As delicately as the brutish man could, he muttered the quiet counsel of, “fix your face.”

“Fix my what?” Ser Laenor returned, offense pitching his voice an octave higher. 

“You’re too obvious.” Ser Devran pointed out.  Surely, he wasn’t the only one who had noticed the tragically forlorn expression of unrequited longing he had been wearing throughout the day.

“It’s not what you think.” Ser Laenor returned, turning his gaze once more to his Lady-liege. 

“It doesn’t matter what I think.” Ser Devran offered amicably.  “But, for your sake, I hope Prince Mors hasn’t noticed you watching his wife like a dog watches a dinner table for scraps.”

Ser Laenor turned to the Dornish Knight beside him on an inhaled breath, his lips parted and poised to defend his honour, but he stopped short at seeing the compassionate face Ser Devran showed him.  “I just…” he uttered instead, his voice trailing off. 

“You’re a Knight, Ser Laenor.  Be brave for your Lady.” Ser Devran told him. 

“What about the bedding ceremony?  How am I meant to be brave then?” The Knight of the King’s Guard looked to the floor beneath his boots, looking every bit the moody boy that his ramblings suggested.  His mask of lugubrious woe cracked however, when Ser Devran started laughing. 

“Bedding ceremony?” The Dornishman repeated, incredulousness tickling at his tone.  “You really think that Princess Nymeria of the Rhoyne would have allowed herself, or any of her daughters who ruled after, to be stripped down and gawked at by the men beneath her command?” Ser Laenor did not have an answer, which was fortunate since Ser Devran had not been expecting one.  “You Northerners and your strange customs.”

They were reaching the end of the procession now, Lords and Ladies from every corner of Dorne bringing both blessing and tribute to lay at the feet of the new Prince and Princess of the southernmost Realm of Westeros.  Prince Doran allowed his son to give special attention to those Lords he had more favourable relations with, namely the Daynes of Starfall and High Hermitage. There were others who had travelled from beyond Dorne, across the Narrow Sea to honour the Dornish family and their shared agreements of trade and supply routes. One such man approached Prince Mors and Princess Aeranys at the end of the long line of courtiers.

“Illyrio, my old friend.” Prince Doran said pleasantly, stepping forward to embrace the foreign emissary.

“Magister Illyrio Moptis of Pentos,” Maester Caleotte whispered helpfully in Princess Aeranys ear.  “A friend to your husband’s mother.”

“Doran,” Illyrio Mopstis greeted in kind, wrapping his arms around the fragile man who greeted him. “My blessings to you and your family.” He added as he pulled away from the shared embrace.  Turning next to the young people before him he bowed deeply.  “Prince Mors, Princess Aeranys, may the Gods smile upon your union.” With the formalities behind them he righted himself and smiled at his friend’s eldest born child.  “I always wondered what sort of woman your father would choose for you.  It comes as no surprise that he would select only the rarest of roses.” He offered a humble, accommodating nod to Princess Aeranys.

“She is not a flower, Illyrio.  She is a Princess of Dorne.” Prince Mors reminded him sternly. 

“Of course, my apologies.” The Magister of Pentos returned, placing a hand over his heart in sincerity.  With a gesture, the men who had been lingering just behind him stepped forward carrying a decorous trunk between them.  They set the gift before Princess Aeranys and then stepped back once more, keeping their eyes downcast they returned to their place at Illyrio Mopatis’ back.  Though they donned fine linens and silken robes, it was obvious by their manner that they were a chosen few among the Magister's many slaves.

“Princess Aeranys, please accept this gift as a token of my sincere respect for your born name and House.” As he spoke, he crouched to open the lid of the trunk revealing three petrified dragon eggs nested within. 

“Such an expensive tribute.” Prince Mors noted dryly as his new wife stooped to inspect her gifts more closely. 

“For you, Prince Mors, I have something far more precious.” Reaching into the folds of his robes, Illyrio Mopatis produced a letter.  At once, pale eyes grew wide and he snatched the parchment in haste, immediately recognizing the neatly written letters.  “Word from your mother.”

“Thank you, Illyrio, truly.” Ardent sincerity swam in his eyes as Mods looked at the delicate gift he held between his fingers. 

Title: Re: The Golden Sun and the Silver Moon [m]
Post by: Reigning King on March 20, 2020, 11:07:49 PM
Continued...

(https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/7lWl1TsyxynR4M33OIkexTbR0UCnA5haZhmT0AgHG0wnBAOtRLwqYJK8I0Zo9iaF4HTmstA3AnPIUzJ8PPa16T0qobrEfwxZVlCen7UKICjyOMhIEEijte0u_bvzKrlAvBxSpzJc)

The formalities of the evening settled into a more casual affair as the plates for the feast were brought out, accompanied by minstrels and acrobats.  The Bannermen and women of House Martell clapped and laughed, engaging in the frivolity of the evening whilst representatives from smaller Houses approached the head table in staggered groups as the afternoon waned into the evening hours and the rain began to patter upon the stained glass windows of the Great Hall.  Prince Mors sat with his father at one elbow and his bride at the other.  As a rule, the Golden Fang did not like being interrupted while he ate.  Tonight however, he made an exception.

They had indulged the small folk and Palace courtiers alike, polite and jovial.  All the while, a strange barrier of silence lingered between the newlyweds at the center of the head table.  Prince Mors conversed with his father and engaged with his uncle on the other side.  Princess Aeranys bent an accommodating, listening ear to Arianne at her side and indulged the younger boys who sat alongside the table next to their sister.  Now and again their conversations would intersect, running between their invisible borderland.  The practiced pair never permitted the artifice to fade, somehow maneuvering to avoid even having to look one another in the eye.  Due to this atmosphere, or perhaps in spite of it, Prince Mors indulged in the sweet Dornish reds readily replenished into his goblet.

“Princess Aeranys, Prince Mors…” Came the all too familiar voice of the woman who had approached the table, a girl’s narrow shoulder beneath one hand.  “I hope you are enjoying your wedding feast.  The dancers have been especially good, don’t you think?” As she spoke she gestured over her shoulder to the men and women who twirled with red and gold ribbons swirling behind them in the center of the hall.  While Ellaria prattled pleasantries to Princess Aeranys, the girl at her side leered pointedly at Prince Mors.  She wore her dark curls pulled away from her face, hands folded delicately over silky skirts of green and blue.  On her face, she had painted an expression of wide-eyed innocence, yet her treacherous lips, marred by the blemish the Golden Fang’s backhand had left behind, twitched with a hidden smirk. 

“My chambermaid wanted to offer you a word in apology, my Lady.” Ellaria elaborated as she lifted her hand from Arika’s shoulder and placed it on her back instead, urging her forward as though she were naught but a shy little girl.  “Princess Aeranys, this is Arika Sand.” Ellaria introduced. 

“I’m so sorry for any offense I may have caused, Princess.” The sweet-faced girl utters timidly.  “I want only to best serve H-” stammering, she looked over her shoulder to her Lady liege, the paramour of the Red Viper, who offered a kind nod of encouragement.  A nice touch to ensure the overall effectiveness of the performance.  “Houses Martell and Targaryen.” She finished, offering a smile of darling humility.  How could Princess Aeranys, for all her cleverness and daring, not fall for the farce?

“There!” Ellaria Sand said with a triumphant laugh carried on a satisfied sigh.  “Now we can put this matter behind us.  Right, Mors?”  When she looked to the Prince who sat alongside his bride, she found him distracted rather intentionally with his wine.  It was because of this wine that Prince Mors couldn’t keep the venom from his gaze, the soothing ichor making it harder to keep his feelings tucked away behind his mask.  Instead, he elected to remove himself from the effort altogether.  Instead he looked at the Dornish reds in his cup and watched how they swirled in the chalice spun by his fidgeting fingers twirling at the stem. 

“Mors?” Ellaria repeated, irritation touching upon her pleasant tone. 

“Thank you, my Lady.” Prince Doran answered instead, speaking for his son.  “Why don’t you indulge your beloved in a dance?  He has been missing you all night.” At once, Prince Oberyn rose from his seat beside his brother, their mutual understanding of one another having evolved well beyond a quiet word or even a shared gaze. 

“Come, my love.” The Red Viper encouraged adoringly as he stepped around the table and pulled his paramour into the crowd.  Ellaria’s chambermaid was left with no choice but to trail after her Lady, but not without stealing one last look over her shoulder to Prince Mors. Yet, it was not the Dornish Prince she found looking back at her but instead, his new wife. 

As Ellaria Sand and her troublesome chambermaid stepped away from the head table, Mors visibly relaxed, leaning back in his cushioned seat.  Once they were out of sight, he eased his grip on his goblet, though not before taking a long drink.  “I’m surprised the clumsy thing is still alive.” Prince Doran said in a light, conversational tone in spite of the subject matter. 

“I am practicing small mercies.” Doran’s eldest replied as he gathered the remaining pieces from his plate and swallowed them down readily, as though the effort of the passing interaction had made him hungry. 

“That’s a rather sudden change of heart.” Prince Doran observed.

“At the very least, we must try.  Isn’t that right, father?” Mors replied, leaning back in his chair and reaching once more for his goblet after a passing wine-bearer had stopped to fill it.

“As you say.” The Ruling Prince of Dorne returned softly, sliding a glance across his son to the new daughter who sat on his other side.

The feast carried on in merriment.  As the hours passed into the night Prince Mors and his new wife maintained their silent standoff until at last, it was the Golden Fang who spoke to her for the first time on their wedding day since the night before.  “The hour is late.  I’ll make my rounds to my father’s bannermen and then we retire.” He didn’t even spare her a glance as he dropped his napkin into his empty plate and rose from his chair.  As he did, a tiny blond head appeared behind him, tugging on his tunics. 

“Just the girl I was looking for.” Prince Mors said, in a voice that sounded the closest thing he had been to happy all night. Crouching, he scooped his cousin into his arms as he told her, “I have a favour to ask you.” At once, little Tyene wrapped her skinny embrace around his neck, leaning in accommodatingly so that her cousin might whisper into her ear as they strolled from the head table and into the throngs of guests.  Without needing to be told, Ser Devran was fast on the heels of his liege.

Prince Mors meandered through the crowds with Ser Devran at his shoulder and Tyene Sand at his side, holding her hand.  He allowed himself to be carried this way and that across the Great Hall as persons both low and high within the Dornish Court vied for a private word with the reclusive inheriting Prince. Tyene stood patient and pleasant at her cousin’s side and Ser Devran, ever watchful behind them.  Their small phalanx closed ranks and braced themselves as one Lord in particular presented himself before Prince Mors Nymeros Martell, the Golden Fang.

“Prince Mors,” he said as he rubbed greasy fingers against his tunics and licked stray crumbles from his beard.  “Two audiences in one night, surely the Gods smile on me.”

“Lord Uller,” Prince Mors intoned in a suddenly sobering voice.  “I’m pleased to see you are enjoying my family’s hospitality.” As the young Dornishman spoke, the bastard sons of Lord Harman Uller rose to stand around their father.  By comparison, the Lord of Hellholt had the more intimidating faction.  That was the wonder of sweet, little Tyene.  Everyone always underestimated her. 

“I believe I’m owed a bit more than just your hospitality, wouldn’t you say, Prince Mors?” Lord Uller contended with a laugh that spoke of a belly filled with wine.  “In fact, by my account, it’s a son I’m owed.  That is how your father settles disagreements such as ours, isn’t it?  With sons?” As he spoke Lord Uller stepped closer to the young Prince he addressed.  He stood at least half a head taller than Prince Mors, with the physical and moral advantage in every sense.  Yet, when the Golden Fang took his own measured step forward, it was he who seemed the bigger man.  Lord Uller wasn’t wrong in his assessment of Prince Doran’s designs.  It was no secret that Quentyn had been sent to foster with Lord Yronwood to settle a dispute over a lost son in a match with the Red Viper.  Lord Vorian Dayne had always been too noble to offer any insight on what slight may have earned Mors a place by his side, yet it was apparent that such an offense had been made.  Nevertheless...

“I believe I asked you not to wear that heirloom of yours to my wedding.” Prince Mors said patiently, changing the subject completely.

“It is a symbol of the strength of my House. Do not forget that it was my ancestors who held Queen Rhaenys captive and kept Dorne free from Targaryen Rule.” As Lord Uller spoke, his sons nodded along beside him, encouraging their father’s folly.  Had any of them been of sober mind, they may have advised their sire differently.

“As you say.” Mors answered politically.  “Tell me, do you still torture all your prisoners as Queen Rhaenys suffered?” At Lord Uller’s hesitation, Prince Mors filled the silence.  “Is it a skill, passed down through the generations?”

“You know…” Lord Uller began, but it was too late.  Prince Mors had closed the space between them, snatching the necklace and snapping the chain, pulling the pendant from the Lord of Hellholt’s thick neck.  Before he or his sons were given the chance to move into action Prince Mors had handed the necklace off to his young cousin who took flight in an instant, disappearing into the crowd within the blink of an eye.  As anger twisted his expression, and he reached for the hilt of his blade he was given pause when his hand gripped only his own steel, drawing blood from curled fingers.  It was Prince Mors who held the hilt of Lord Uller’s familial sword, having seized and drawn it before the older man had even reached for it. 

“You’ve seen me in a melee, my Lord… would you like to see me in a brawl?” The voice Prince Mors spoke with was even and calm, yet carried with it a deadly undercurrent. The men around Lord Uller reacted belatedly, assessing their sire’s position only after it had been compromised.  For a moment, everyone held their breath, Ser Devran counting targets in silence behind his Prince. 

“I see you’re still the boy I remember,” Lord Uller replied carefully, removing his hands from his belt line and holding them out in casual surrender.  As the Golden Fang sheathed Lord Uller’s blade at his hip from where he had pulled it out partway, the men around them eased their stance, releasing the breath they had been holding.  “Keep the trinket.” Lord Uller said bitterly.  “Think of it as a wedding gift.”

“Thank you, my Lord.” Prince Mors said politely as he took care to straighten the Lord of Hellholt’s tunics.  “And just so you know,” he continued.  “I will slit my father’s throat and take his seat from him before I ever allow my little brother into your halls.” It was with those words that he left Lord Uller where he stood, dumbfounded and shamed amongst his brood. 

As Prince Mors and Princess Aeranys gathered themselves from the head table and made their exit through the Great Hall, hand in hand, the wedding guests paused in their revelry to applaud the young couple as they passed, bound for their marriage bed.  Once they were lost within the corridors of the Old Palace, they dropped each other’s grasp and drifted away from one another to opposite sides of the long hallway.  They did not make it far before they were stopped once more, this time by a small blond-headed girl in a pretty dress, holding a prize bashfully behind her back.  Mors stepped forward and lowered himself onto one knee as Tyene rushed forward to drop something in her cousin’s hand.  He whispered a sweet goodnight and gracious thanks into her ear before kissing her on the top of her head, giving her leave to take off once more into the shadowed corridors of Sunspear she knew so well.  Rising from where he had been knelt, Mors turned to his new wife and stepped towards her, taking her hands into his own.  Into her pale, pink palm he dropped Lord Uller’s necklace.  The lock of silver hair was the same shade as her own, the shining pendant into which it was set reflecting the moonlight in her hands against her lovely face. 

“You’ve been given many gifts tonight, but you haven’t looked at any of them like you looked at this.” He explained.  When her eyes lifted to meet his, there was a certain tenderness swimming in his yellow gaze.  “I wanted to be the one to give it to you.” Mors hesitated for a moment before asking that same familiar question he had asked her before. 

“Does this please you?”

Title: Re: The Golden Sun and the Silver Moon [m]
Post by: asterin on March 21, 2020, 08:43:53 PM
Uller. The name alone was enough to send a chill crawling down her spine like a spindly spider, and she instantly understood why he had seemed eerily familiar. As a Targaryen princess, Aeranys understood very, very well what that name meant to her family. Rhaenys’ blood flowed through the current ruling family, just as it did hers--all descended through the only child the queen had borne before she had perished in Hellholt. The remaining conqueror siblings had taken their own revenge, claiming the lives of four Lords of Hellholt in succession, but the Targaryens had never been able to recover what had been of the utmost importance to them--Queen Rhaenys’ remains. The Ullers had always claimed ignorance, saying that she had never been found, crushed to death in the rubble. And yet, the rumors had always swirled ominously about that the Ullers had captured her alive and done what they were best known for. Cold-blooded torture.

Now she could see that the rumors had likely been true--or at least, they had indeed found the Targaryen queen’s body. Instead of choosing to return her remains to her home for a proper funeral, they had chosen to turn her into a trinket, to boast their desecration of a woman and call it strength. Whatever feeble attempt her mind made to raise the possibility of a coincidence was drowned out by something deep in her gut; it tasted like conviction, like prophecy, spreading quick and hot in her veins.

Her delicate fingers curled into a fist under the shield of her left hand, her gaze locked upon the pendant. She knew what she had to do--it couldn’t have been clearer to her even if the pendant suddenly gained a voice and begged her to liberate it from the prison of humiliation it had been forced to suffer for more than two centuries.

But how?

If he had been any other lord, she would have played the part of a fanciful young bride to be indulged, so enchanted by the beauty of the pendant that she would innocently declare her admiration for it. Most lords would be inclined to gift it to the lovely young woman in a grand gesture, their ego stroked to own something that had caught the attention of the bride.

This, however, was not any other lord. Not only did the Ullers and Targaryens have a history between them, so too did the Martells have an unfortunate history between them and those of Hellholt. That much would’ve been apparent just from watching the way that the Martell father and son interacted with the Lord of Hellholt, but Aeranys had been privy to the root cause of their current strife. The last time she had seen Lord Harmon Uller had been at that tourney so long ago, where her new husband had killed another boy in the melee portion. The man who had risen from his seat in rage and shock, the man who had beseeched her father for justice but had not received it--had been this very man.

The tension in the air was thick as the portly lord and Martell prince stared each other down, and she felt her desperate heart sink into her churning stomach. There would be no way to curry favor with him, not like this, but even so… Her eyes returned to the coil of silver hair. There had to be a way.

Still, there was little she could do as the Ruling Prince of Dorne broke the tension, subtly indicating to Lord Uller that his time was up. As he and his string of boys walked off, she trailed them closely with her gaze, loathe to let what had to be her ancestor’s last remains drift away out of reach. Unfortunately, the next guest was here, and her attention was required. Reluctantly, she averted her eyes and painted a lovely smile onto her lips. There would be many, many more guests to greet.

In the sea of faces and names, one family was quite a joy for her to see. The Daynes had come, but of course, Arthur and Ashara were absent. That was to be expected, but she was surprised to see that young Allyria was also missing. Her polite question to Lord Dayne, however, was dodged most expertly, assuring her that his daughter was in good health before turning his attention to the boy who had grown up with his own. Then onwards to the next guest, and then the next, until the extensive line had finally dwindled to almost nothing. The last man to step up to the new royal couple, however, dressed elaborately in a manner that was even different to Dornish customs, seemed to elicit a response from both of the Martell men around her.

“Magister Illyrio Moptis of Pentos,” the kindly maester at her side murmured as she watched Prince Doran Martell give the man an affectionate embrace. “A friend to your husband’s mother.”

She nodded humbly in greeting at the magister, smiling at his words of congratulations as if her jaws had not begun to strain long ago. “Thank you kindly,” she added.

“I always wondered what sort of woman your father would choose for you,” the man addressed the Dornish prince beside her, “It comes as no surprise that he would select only the rarest of roses.” Though his words would have been regarded as high praise in her own father’s court, she was surprised by the stern reply the young man gave. Not a flower, but a Princess of Dorne. Despite being part of the Seven Kingdoms, Dorne had always been a bit of exception; it was certainly a foreign land she was in, with foreign sensibilities. Any offense he might have caused to the Dornish royals, it was likely soon wiped clean the moment he revealed his offering--this one meant for her in particular.


(https://66.media.tumblr.com/72aa6812125ca95b8c84d495f2c6f294/tumblr_mpakimamyo1s6bxzqo1_r4_500.gif)


She was almost struck speechless as the trunk was opened to reveal what they held. Dragon’s eggs--three of them. “They may have turned to stone by the ages, but they are still beautiful,” she heard the magister say. Sinking down carefully in her gown, Aeranys reached out towards them. Gently, she brushed her fingers over the surface of the eggs, feeling the texture of the tightly woven scales. The eggs were warm, she realized--they must have been in the hot sun recently.

Despite the Targaryens having had the age-old tradition of placing a dragon’s egg in a newly born child’s cradle, it had been a long, long time since there had been any eggs to be found. They were larger than she could have expected, glimmering in the light like metal, each with different coloring. The centermost egg was silvery-blue, shimmering like an opal in the sun. The egg on the left was black as pitch, dotted with silver, while the egg on the right was a deep rust red with flecks of gold. Three eggs complementing each other, perhaps even from the same clutch. 

The dragon must have three heads, her brother had always said, and seeing the three eggs lined up neatly in their makeshift nest suddenly struck her with an unbearable sense of loneliness and homesickness. If only…

“Such an expensive tribute,” her husband remarked. Remembering herself, she folded her lonely thoughts away for another sleepless night and rose, turning to Illyrio to convey her gratitude once the prince had expressed his own thanks for the letter he had been given.

“Thank you, magister,” she spoke steadily, but her voice was laced with a difficult emotion. “Your generosity will not be forgotten.” 


************************


“Careful,” the older boy warned. Trystane bashfully prodded at the egg with a chubby finger, carefully gauging the expression of his new sister-in-law, though it wasn’t her reaction he should have been worried about. After all, it was Quentyn who was quick to remind his brother to be gentle. He was the one holding the rust-red egg that had caught their attention, cradling it carefully in his tanned hands as if it were a fragile baby; unlike his younger brother, he was aware of its rarity and was afraid to drop the priceless artifact. “D’you think they’ll hatch?” the boy asked her, his young face serious and solemn in contrast to his younger brother, who only smiled up at her from his spot.

“Wouldn’t that be wonderful?” she replied with a smile of her own. “But unfortunately, they’ve been turned to stone long ago.”

Quentyn nodded as if it all made sense, taking in the information with his studious mind. “I suppose that’s why they feel so cold,” he remarked, looking down at the egg.

“Yes,” Aeranys answered, though a beat too late. The thought hadn’t occurred to her, but Quentyn was right. The eggs were fossilized into stone, which meant that they should’ve been cold as the marble floors adorning the palace. But when she had lifted the egg from the chest and placed it into Quentyn’s waiting hands, it hadn’t been cold at all. In fact--

“Thank you for letting us see them,” Quentyn told her politely, returning the egg to its rightful place. 

“Of course,” Aeranys smiled at the well-mannered boy. “If you should ever want to see them again, you only need to say so.” She stooped to close the trunk, but upon second thought, she brushed a hand over the surface of the centermost egg--then the others. Stone they were, but she felt warmth there still, just as she had when she first laid her hands on them. Wondering at it, she let the heavy lid close over the priceless eggs before straightening back into her seat, turning back to Arianne who was eager to continue chattering away. Perhaps it was she who was cold, hands made icy and clammy from the strain and anxiety of her wedding. Any other rambling thoughts, however, were cleared from her mind as she was called to attention by an approaching pair and she recognized just who the younger girl was.

It was the girl with the curls, from the night before.

Though the fair-haired princess indulged Ellaria Sand’s attempt at small talk, all polite smiles and agreement, her gaze itched to stray to the girl. She seemed unhurt, other than the lip that had scabbed over, and her hands appeared to be firmly in place. The moment the younger girl was brought forward and introduced, uttering a timid apology, Aeranys was more than quick to quiet whatever anxiety the poor thing might have had. “There is absolutely no need for apologies,” she said firmly, her words soaked thoroughly with an empathic warmth as she offered the shy chambermaid a genuine smile. “I am truly glad to see you again, Arika Sand.”

Though both the young girl and Ellaria Sand seemed much pleased by her words, the young man who sat next to her refused to engage in the occasion, only drinking quite heavily from his wine goblet--as he had been for most of the evening. All Aeranys could hope was that she hadn’t spoken out of turn, seeing how fiercely he glowered at the two dark-haired women before them. Once again, however, it was the Ruling Prince of Dorne who intervened to relieve the situation, sending the beautiful paramour off with his younger brother to dance. Arika Sand, being her chambermaid, was likewise dismissed, but the princess did not turn her eyes from her so soon, awash with relief. The young girl turned only once, to which she received another smile from the Targaryen bride.

Her attention diverted, she missed what Doran murmured to his eldest, but her new husband’s words were harder to miss, seeing how close they were seated. “I am practicing small mercies,” was his answer. Aeranys pretended not to hear, of course, though her gaze briefly flicked towards the prince before skittering back away. If that means small mercies, I will heed your request, he had promised her on the previous night.

“That’s a rather sudden change of heart,” his father commented, and Aeranys couldn’t help but agree. A part of her must have not placed much stock in his promise, but it seemed that he had kept his word.

“At the very least, we must try,” the Martell prince answered. “Isn’t that right, father?” The gentle agreement of the older man fell on deaf ears as Aeranys bit her lip, feeling the prick of her conscience as clearly as a reprimanding tap from her mother. Nevertheless, she played dumb, nodding along to Arianne’s rush of words and entertaining her and her siblings as the hours grew longer and longer. Once in a while she couldn’t help but search the crowds for the tell-tale glint of silver, but Lord Uller and his brood were apparently seated somewhere more secluded from the view from the dais. Her wandering gaze, fortunately, seemed to go unnoticed by the Martell princess who was in sky-high spirits, having gained a sister at last. Of course, Aeranys herself had gained three younger siblings in one fell swoop, but the joy she might’ve been expected to feel was kept far at bay by all the other emotions fighting for a place in her heart.

By the time the night had come to a close, nervousness had won out--not that she dared to show it. If anything, the mask of a perfectly composed lady had hardened upon her skin like armor. Unlike her husband, she had barely touched her wine. It would have soothed her nerves, no doubt, but wine also loosened control, addled the wits. The day was not over yet, and she did not have the luxury of letting go of the tight reins she had on every expression made and word uttered. Not yet. She nodded as the prince beside her rose, outlining his plans before they retired. He was off then, little Tyene in his arms.

She watched them go for a moment, taking a deep breath, and Arianne clutched at her hand, offering her another grin. “That was perhaps the grandest wedding I’ve seen,” she sighed dreamily, perhaps thinking of the young man she so favored and their possible union. “And your dress! You know, I used to look at the portrait of Princess Daenerys Targaryen every night and pray that I would be as beautiful as her someday. But now I think I’ll pray to be as radiant as you were today.”

“Oh, Arianne,” Aeranys murmured softly. “You will make an even more beautiful bride someday.” Arianne squealed in giddy protest, not noticing that despite the smile, Aeranys’ eyes were tinged with hidden sorrow. She was not lying; Arianne Martell would be a beautiful bride one day, that much was clear as the sun rising and setting--and there lay the tragedy. Like it or not, the princess knew that the young girl would become a bride.

She could only hope that it would be to a man she loved well.

The fact that there was to be no bedding ceremony was a mercy--once again, Dorne loved her daughters, it seemed. However, it did not change the tension that hung in the air as they made their exit and into the corridors that would lead them to their chambers and what was to be done. They were silent as they moved forward, not even able to keep arm-in-arm once they were out of the public eye, and it was dread that began to rise up in her with each step she took. Then, suddenly, there was a flash of gold--little Tyene, seemingly having come out of nowhere. She said nothing, only dashing over to her favored cousin and placing something in his palm. Having come to a stop once her husband had, Aeranys watched in a dazed kind of detachment as they shared an affectionate goodnight.

When he turned and stepped towards her to place something into her hands, however, she was forced back into reality by shock alone. She felt herself inhale sharply at the sight of it--silver and purple, laying matter-of-factly in her palm. How…?

“You’ve been given many gifts tonight, but you haven’t looked at any of them like you looked at this,” the prince spoke, explaining himself.

She looked up at the young man before her, stunned silent. He’d noticed? How had he even obtained it? When had he gotten it?

“I wanted to be the one to give it to you,” he said quietly, and the eyes that so often only cool and calculating held a strange, earnest warmth. It almost burned to see it here and now. At her continued silence, he went on. “Does this please you?”

“Yes, I…” she began hastily, sounding more distressed than pleased. After all, what had come surging in after the initial shock had been guilt. Recognizing how she must have sounded, Aeranys paused to compose herself, her gaze dropping to the floor below her. “I am deeply touched to receive this from you, milord. I have no words to describe my gratitude,” she managed, her tone much more even this time around. “And yet, it troubles me that despite all the gifts you have given me, I have nothing to give you in return.” Anything of worth she had been sent forth from the Red Keep with had been taken from her, and he did not strike her as the type to be pleased with trinkets anyhow. At the very least, we must try, he had said. She knew those words were true--that had been her determination before things had somehow turned course. But how was she to try with this enigma of a husband?

(https://media.giphy.com/media/kDSdx2TZrwVrq7ktpz/giphy.gif)

And yet, another part of her--perhaps the Targaryen queen’s trace in her blood--was wild with the heady sense of triumph. The silvery lock of hair seemed to glimmer bright in the moonlight, rejoicing in being freed from the bloodline of those that had wronged her and being reunited with her own kin. Kin that would know her wish as her own, who could lay her rest. Yes, Aeranys Targaryen knew there was only one thing to be done. “This may seem forward of me, milord,” she ventured quietly. “But am I free to do with this pendant as I wish?” It must have been a strange question, but it was a necessary one. After all, unlike other pieces of jewelry he might have offered to her, this pendant would never again be used as an accessory--not by her, not by anyone. She would make sure of that.
Title: Re: The Golden Sun and the Silver Moon [m]
Post by: Reigning King on March 21, 2020, 11:08:27 PM
The turban Mors had been wearing throughout the ceremony and feast sat on the seat of an empty chair within the vastness of his rooms.  Candles had been lit throughout his sleeping chamber, but the light that filled the space came from the fireplace.  Mors crouched before the warmth of the flames he had coaxed to life, prodding at the curling bark of the logs with an iron rod.  It was rare for Mors to keep a fire in his humble hearth.  Even on nights such as this, when the skies darkened and the cold rain trickled from the clouds, the humidity of the southern winds kept the Old Palace of Sunspear warm and inviting.  This pyre however, was born not to heal the chill of the flesh, but rather to ease the heaviness of the heart.  Rising from where he had been knelt before the flame, Mors rested the iron rod against the gleaming stones of the hearth before turning to his new wife. 

“I’ll give you a moment,” he said gently as he stepped around her. 

Plucking one of two goblets of Dornish reds from a table, he padded his way out onto the terrace of his bedchamber.  The rain echoed against the roof above him as he set his goblet against the edge of the stone balustrade and leaned forward onto his elbows.  His head and neck reached beyond the cover of the terrace roof, rain drops falling heavy and refreshing upon his face.  The sound of the rain was nearly overpowered by the sound of the celebration, spilling out from the Palace into the streets of the Shadow City below.  Retreating beneath the shelter from the rain, he dragged a hand across his face, bringing the wetness into his hair.  The coolness eased the itch of his scalp, relieving some of the heat from wearing the heavy ceremonial turban of his inherited culture.

As Prince Mors took his goblet in hand and tipped the wine down his throat, the sky began exploding over the Shadow City.  Shells of gunpowder and coloured combustibles were launched into the air, erupting in the sky and painting the grey clouds in sparkling patterns of red and yellow.  The lights reflected against the young man’s face as he watched his people celebrate his marriage with Princess Aeranys of the House Targaryen.  The Golden Fang, the monstrous boy, the murdering scoundrel, had finally found himself a woman.  If only the revelry were contagious, Mors might be able to bring a smile to his tired face. 

His wife joined him on the terrace after a time.  The expression she wore was one of satisfaction and pride.  The Princess had done right by her ancestors, a fitting conclusion to the evening.  The duty she exhibited in the name of her Royal House was admirable, her present circumstance as a wedded wife no exception.  As she looked out at the brightly glimmering explosions that decorated the night sky, Mors found himself watching her. 

“They’re for us.” He explained, referring of course to the noisy celebration covering the horizon and the inspiring cheers from the people who watched in awe below.  “It would seem that Dorne has accepted it’s new daughter.” He pointed out, turning back to the pulsating city below.  The people were so far they looked like tiny bugs gathering in a colony, but Mors let his gaze touch upon them with tenderness and humility.  They moved about in clusters, some more colourful and lively than others.  The people of Dorne, each one unbowed, unbent and unbroken. 

As quickly as he had settled into stillness, he moved into action again.  Long strides carried Prince Mors from the terrace of his bed chambers back into the warmth of his rooms.  As he went he brought the edge of his chalice to his lips, pouring back what remained of his wine.  Setting the goblet aside he moved busy hands to the belt around his waist, letting it fall to the floor as he began to peel back the layers of his heavy formal attire.  Finely detailed tunics fell to the floor in a crumpled pile of misplaced embroidery until he remained in only his underclothes.  At last he kicked off his boots before reaching for a night robe which he ready pulled over his shoulders in the casual manner with which he did every night.  For a moment, he almost forgot that he was not alone.

Princess Aeranys had gingerly meandered back into the room after her husband.  At the sight of him stripping down into only his shirt and braise, an expression had overtaken her features that Mors had never seen before.  It was with bashfulness that she began fidgeting with the fastenings of her wedding dress, her fingers getting tangled in the ties around her wrist.  He watched her for a moment before at last their eyes met from across the room.  The curiosity that had been lurking in his yellow eyes was overtaken by a wave of sympathy.  With an honourably downcast gaze, bare feet carried Mors across the room to his wife. 

Gentle hands reached first for the veil around the crown of her head.  With slow, deliberate movements he removed the piece from where it was clipped into her hair, setting it aside with great care.  Their gaze met again, yellows clashing with violets as he placed his hands upon her shoulders and turned her around, setting his hands to the task of the delicate lacing that ran down the length of her back.  The Golden Fang was no stranger to the intricacies of women’s clothing.  Thus, it was with experienced fingers that he began to loosen the tightness of her dress from around her waist, untying the criss-crossed binding.  As he reached the lacing on the upper part of her back, his hands paused temporarily, feeling her heart beat hard and heavy against her ribs. 

“Your heart is beating fast.” Prince Mors observed as he unhooked the last of the fastenings on her dress, tugging the edges from her shoulders so they fell down her arms.  “Do I frighten you?” He asked. 

The white dress fell off her body and landed in a pile of lace and silk at her feet.  Where Mors had discarded his own garments carelessly, he instead stooped to collect his wife’s gown as she stepped out of it.  Moving away from the woman he was meant to be ravishing, he laid her wedding dress out over the back of a chair.  Instead of returning to Princess Aeranys’ side  at once, he stopped to collect another night robe, smaller and more feminine in shape than his own. 

“I have done many evil things,” Prince Mors admitted as he moved about the room.  “But I have never taken a woman who didn’t want me.” Approaching her, he draped the robe over her shoulders, pulling the front together to cover her exposed frame, shielded only by a thin white shift.  “I will not begin with my wife.”

Moving back the large bed that adorned the centermost place in the Prince’s large chambers, he pulled back the sheets before blowing out the candle on the table next to it.  “You should try and get some sleep,” he told his wife as he climbed into his bed.  “We have a busy day ahead of us tomorrow.”  As he rested his head on the pillow and closed his eyes to the waking world, Mors found sleep ready and inviting.  Perhaps it was the wine, or the exhaustion of the day, or the heaviness of the various masks he had donned for the sake of formality.  Whatever it was, it carried Prince Mors Nymeros Martell on a cloud into the land of his dreams.  Breathing steadily, he fell asleep to the gentle rhythm of the falling rain.


(https://media.giphy.com/media/gHPGFRT5V6uc3JLBZb/giphy.gif)

(https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/7lWl1TsyxynR4M33OIkexTbR0UCnA5haZhmT0AgHG0wnBAOtRLwqYJK8I0Zo9iaF4HTmstA3AnPIUzJ8PPa16T0qobrEfwxZVlCen7UKICjyOMhIEEijte0u_bvzKrlAvBxSpzJc)
When Princess Aeranys was stirred from her marriage bed the next morning, it was to the sound of her new husband moving about his chambers, readying himself for the day.  He donned clean tunics and trousers, dressed casually given the early hour of the morning.  Splashing water in his face he ran the sweet smelling oils of the basin through his hair as he looked at his reflection in the mirror.  Behind him, he noticed a silver head sitting up in bed.  Turning around he gave a nod to his wife before gesturing to the food that had been laid out on the table before the hearth, only dimly glowing coals remaining of her funerary pyre from the night before.

“Good morning,” he said pleasantly.  “I’ve already had our morning meal brought here.  Septa Oranea laid out one of your dresses just there.” Mors elaborated as he pointed about the room.  He looked away from her to tuck his tunics into the belt of his trousers before seating himself on a nearby stool to tug his boots onto his feet. 

“I have some new guests to welcome into my workshop,” he was speaking of course to the large number of writhing, hissing gifts he had been given the previous evening.  Most were common, but some of the Dornish courtiers had managed to curate rather rare finds for their Prince.  “But I will collect you later from your rooms.” As he spoke he rose from where he had been seated, smoothing out the wrinkles in his clothes.  “We will be attending council with my father and his bannermen.” Turning to leave, he hesitated and gestured once more to the food, some of which Mors had already helped himself to.   

“Eat,” he encouraged, closing the door behind him. 
Title: Re: The Golden Sun and the Silver Moon [m]
Post by: asterin on March 22, 2020, 01:25:40 PM
The roar of the fire was a familiar comfort as she knelt before the hearth, for once seeming to forget to care about the delicate dress she was wearing. Unlike Dorne, King’s Landing could hardly be called of warm climate. Fires had always burned in the Red Keep, whether kept to a fever pitch or glowing red coals. It warmed her bones to the marrow, loosening the stiffness in her shoulders better than the finest Dornish wine could have, and Aeranys drew herself closer and closer to the fire before her. She looked down to the pendant grasped tight in her hand and ran her fingers gently over the silver plait that so matched her own locks. Queen Rhaenys had waited so long to be laid to rest; even after her life had left her, her torment had continued for more than two hundred years now.

Carefully, she placed the pendant into the fire, bearing witness as the flames began to swallow the silvery braid. Despite having been kings and queens for centuries now, despite having styled themselves dragonlords for centuries before that, the funeral rites that had been passed down were not elaborate or grandiose. It was a warrior’s funeral pyre, true to the dragon nature that ran through their blood. Queen Rhaenys, however, had been more than just a conqueror--she’d been a lover of music and a diplomat, a caring mother too. Then surely it was only fitting that she received a proper tribute to all that she had been.

Against the crackling of the fire, the young woman began to sing softly, a lullaby her mother had sung to her as a babe, a song that had been passed down the Targaryen line from parent to child. Queen Rhaenys herself must have once sung this very song to her own precious son, lulling him to sleep with the simple melody that alluded to the ever-circling nature of fire, of birth, death, and rebirth. If that was so, perhaps her soul would be lulled to rest this time by a child of her own bloodline.

The braided lock was gone by the time she finished the lullaby, only leaving behind the silver prison that would burn for much longer. “Ēdrūs, muña,” she murmured. Sleep now, mother. Aeranys allowed herself to sit before the fire for a little while longer before she finally rose to her feet, her lips set into a firm line. One duty to her family name was over, but another of great importance still remained. She squared her shoulders, reminding herself just how far she had journeyed for this very purpose--just how many lives and things had been lost to bring her to this point.

Her hand went to her forearm. Even though it was over the silken material of her dress, the cuts twinged at the pressure of her fingers upon the scabs. Just like that night, she stood upon the precipice. This too, was not the time to be soft or indulge her own selfish wants. With that in her mind, the Targaryen princess turned and walked out into the night air to join the young man who had become her new destiny.


(https://media.giphy.com/media/duRZasOOFlxX8XC0BR/giphy.gif)


*******************


Aeranys stared at the doors for a moment after they had closed, motionless. When her husband's footsteps had faded into the distance, she fell back upon the coverlets of the bed, looking up blankly at the canopy above. A disaster. That was what this was, a disaster.

Theirs was a marriage only in name. They might have exchanged vows before a multitude of onlookers, but an unconsummated marriage still put everything in precarious balance. Nothing was secured yet and everything was still on the line. She had spent hours lying awake in the dead of night, trying to think of how things had gone so wrong. She knew her new husband was a different creature from most men, but she’d thought that at least in this matter, he wouldn’t differ so greatly. Even if all the other things he considered useful were different from the norm, this, this at least, should’ve remained. After all, he was heir to the seat of Dorne--it was of utmost importance, then, that he had his own heir and a spare as soon as possible. And yet, he’d refused. His grounds? He’d implied that she was frightened of him, that she didn’t want him. Had she trusted her voice to not betray her, she would have lied to his face.

Of course, he hadn’t been wrong. But what maid peddled off to a stranger wasn’t at least a bit afraid on her wedding night? How much did desire have to do with the marriage bed? Very little--she’d been taught that much when she’d still been a lass. This was the done thing, the course most pairs, if not all, took on their wedding night. She brought a hand to her temple, trying to soothe the headache that began once more. Worry or not, she had other duties to attend to as well. Finally sliding out of bed, she began to go about crafting the perfect outer shell that would be necessary to keep her hidden from the closely scrutinizing eyes of the Dornish court.

When she stepped out of the confines of the prince’s chambers, Aeranys was startled to find a certain knight waiting for her at the opposite side of the corridor. “Ser Laenor,” she uttered, somewhat unable to keep all her surprise from her voice. Immediately the knight stood to attention, bowing courteously in greeting.

“Princess,” he addressed her as he came to a stop before her. His eyes were quick to take in the sight of her, trying to infer the state of her mind and emotions, things that she always guarded so vigilantly. She was dressed elegantly as usual, though he admitted that it was still strange to see her clothed in Dornish fashion.

“Have I been summoned?” the princess inquired, her posture straightening as if on instinct.

“No, milady,” the blond knight answered, shaking his head. “It wouldn’t do to leave you unescorted as your sworn knight. I shall accompany you to wherever you might wish to head.”

“I was just going to head back to my chambers,” the young woman answered, but knowing that she would be out of reach there, the knight quickly suggested otherwise.

“Surely some fresh air would do you better, princess,” he said, his brows lifting earnestly. The princess hesitated for a moment, her gaze drifting in the space before her.

“Very well, then. Perhaps a brief outing to the Water Gardens wouldn’t hurt,” she acquiesced politely, though something in her countenance seemed weary. She took the arm he offered, the familiar feather-light weight of her fingers resting in the crook of his elbow as he led her down the path that would take them to the Water Gardens. In this moment, it hardly felt like the events of yesterday had occurred, but the young knight knew better than to allow his thoughts to stray too far.

“Prince Mors,” he began casually, breaking the silence that had settled over the pretty young woman on his arm. “He seems to have many matters to tend to despite the hour.”

“Yes, I was told he was needed in his study,” she replied, though her gaze remained glued to the path before them. Despite always being skilled at keeping a conversation flowing seamlessly, she fell quiet again--something that did not go unnoticed by the knight. He’d watched over her for years now. He knew his princess well, and he knew something was not right. The worry that had kept him awake twisted in his chest, bringing a lump to his throat.

When she did not speak even as they entered the luscious gardens, her eyes refusing to even admire the flowers and fountains surrounding them, he could not help but try again. “Are you feeling unwell, princess?” he asked, concern wrinkling his fair brow.

This time she did look up at him, a small placating smile on her lips, but only for a moment far too fleeting. “I’m feeling fine, Ser Laenor. Thank you for asking,” she told him. She was saying all the correct words, perhaps even sounding as she should have, but he wasn’t fooled.

He stopped in his leisurely pace, turning to the princess he loved above all else. “Milady...has he been unkind to you?” he managed quietly, his desperation beginning to leak into his voice.

“No, Ser Laenor,” she answered him, but her eyes, still refusing to meet his, seemed tired and sad. “He has not.” Her attempt to continue walking the path was cut off by the young man, who clutched her hand with a new angry conviction leaping in his eyes.

“Did he hurt you? If he hurt you--” he began hotly, only for his lady-liege to turn towards him.

“Please,” she pleaded, her voice strained tight as a bowstring. The look in her eyes, despairing lilac misted with unshed tears, was enough to stop the air in his lungs. “That’s enough, Ser Laenor.” There was a ragged breath as she looked away from him, but her next words were soon to be delivered in a devastating command. “You will not speak ill of my husband again.” Stricken, he searched her face for the gentility he loved so, but her features had frosted over into something so severe and distant that he released her numbly, his hand falling limply to his side.

For a long moment they stood like disjointed dolls on a stage, cut so brutally from the script they had been written into. It was the princess who broke the thick silence this time, her poise perfectly in place. “I think I’d like to retire to my chambers now,” she declared. Without waiting for the knight to offer her his arm, she turned and strode back down the paved trail they had walked. It was only a few heartbeats afterward that the Velaryon boy was able to trail after her, though he could not tell how his shattered heart still managed to beat in his chest.
Title: Re: The Golden Sun and the Silver Moon [m]
Post by: Reigning King on March 22, 2020, 05:59:55 PM
When Prince Mors arrived to collect his wife from his mother’s rooms, he donned a finely fitted kurta over his previously casual attire.  The tension that had been thick and heavy beyond compare the evening prior had eased itself into something more readily disguised as the newly wedded pair strode down the corridors of the Old Palace, her hand wrapped neatly about his arm.  They made their way to the council chambers wherein Prince Doran had already made himself comfortable in the high backed chair at the end of the table.  Standing just behind the Ruling Prince of Dorne, Aero Hotah stood watching ever faithful over his liege.  Mors nodded in greeting to both men as he made his way across the throne room with his wife on his arm.  They took their places at the opposite end of the table to Prince Doran, his son taking the seat of honour at the head of the long table.  The chair to the left of his own, Prince Mors pulled back accommodatingly for Princess Aeranys.  She lowered herself into the cushioned high backed seat, a picture of grace and decorum.  As Mors pressed his hands against the back of her chair and made to push her into place, a loud screech and the rhythmic beating of wings sent him rearing back.  Stumbling a few steps in mindful retreat, Prince Mors watched in awe as the zaldrīzes hontes he had gifted unto her days ago came swooping into the council chamber from the open window.  Large wings glided about the room upon the late morning breeze before long sharp talons came to grip the backing of Princess Aerany’s seat.  Coming to a stop the great bird rustled it’s feathers as the wide-stretching black wings nestled against themselves.  As the Princess of Dorne looked over her shoulder to remark upon her visitor, the bird lowered it’s red head to meet hers, a sweet, rumbling coo falling from it’s pointed beak. 

“It is good to see that you did not waste your gold, son.” Prince Doran remarked, his expression still a smooth mask of calm contentment in spite of the surprise in his voice. 

“Magnificent, isn’t he?” Prince Mors observed approvingly as Princess Aeranys lifted a hand to her friend who rubbed his beak along her dainty fingers. 

“A most welcome addition.” Prince Doran agreed, a twinkle of amusement in his dark eyes.

The bannermen and women of House Martell made their way into the council chambers in a timely fashion.  While some were bright eyed and prepared for the proceedings to come, some appeared to have indulged more heavily in the frivolity of celebration than others.  They remarked upon the presence of the great bird at Princess Aeranys side in silent surprise, nervous glances exchanged between Houses.  Maester Caleotte scribbled notes onto parchment as commanders sitting around the table listed off their respective numbers.  Soldiers, cavalry, siege weapons and supplies were all accounted for and found to be in good standing.  Prince Doran delegated specific roles to each of the Lords and Ladies of Dorne.  Some would lead parties into war, others would be taking over the stately responsibilities previously assigned to their sires and lieges.  The Household of Sunspear was no exception to this rule. 

“Master Toyne will be leading our forces from the front with my son,” Prince Doran elaborated.  “Dame Natari will be charged with commanding those numbers remaining in Sunspear, acting as Master at Arms in her father’s stead.”

“Thank you, my Prince. I will hold my father’s position with honour until his return.” Natari of House Toyne answered dutifully from her father’s side.

“As you say,” Prince Doran replied approvingly.  “Now, onto more pressing matters…” He continued, his gaze flicking pointedly to his eldest child.

“Our numbers will be ready to march on your command,” Prince Oberyn Martell offered from his brother’s side. 

“Then we will deploy our forces at once.” Prince Doran conceded matter-of-factly.  “The Lord of Highgarden is holding siege at Storm’s End, Lord Steffon Baratheon seems to be giving him some trouble.”  His gaze swept from the various parchments before him, each one sealed with the colours of a different Westerosi House, before returning to those around the table.  “I trust we will be able to aid Lord Tyrell in this effort.”

“He did not pursue the rebel forces North?” Lady Qorgyle remarked, a tisk touching upon the lips hidden behind the silky red veil of her native desert climate.  “Foolish…” She muttered.  Her son, Quentyn, sat beside her, nodding along with his mother’s assessment. 

“We should send our commanders in pursuit at once.” Prince Mors suggested. 

“And the siege?” Prince Doran countered. 

“I’ll need only fifty good swords to break it.” His son confirmed confidently.

“Only fifty?” Lord Jordayne of Tor repeated in a disbelieving tone.  “Storm’s End is a fortress.”  He reminded the young Prince. “Lord Tyrell has ten thousand men, at least, holding it’s gates and you think you’ll penetrate the Baratheon stronghold with fifty?”

“You doubt me, my Lord?” Prince Mors asked his father’s Bannerman, a daring sort of contestation playing across his face.

“My nephew may be young and green, but he has a mind for battle.” Prince Oberyn pointed out, helpfully.  “You saw him take the shores of Estermont.  You were there, you watched the island burn.”  The Red Viper reminded the Lord of House Jordayne.

“One victory does not make a conqueror.” Lady Qorgyle pointed out, her dark, kohl-lined eyes filled with doubt. 

“The ruling seat of the rebel faction is a prize we can not afford to lose in this war.” Lord Vorian Dayne interjected.  “I trust our Prince will not fail us.”

“Fifty men.” Prince Doran agreed, his calculating stare falling to his son.  “I will be expecting the castle to fall within a week’s time.”

“Three days.” Prince Mors returned. 

“Three days.” His father repeated, a gentle, proud smile tugging at the corners of his lips. 

“Most of my men have been dispatched with Ser Lewyn to King’s Landing, at your command, Prince Mors.”  Lord Dagos of House Manwoody spoke up.  There was no doubtfulness in his voice, nor descension in his eyes.  He looked on at the young Prince with naught but respect for the boy raised within the mountains of the Stoney Dornishman.  “My remaining forces will join you in your efforts.  We are… shall we say, familiar, with the plains of the Stormlands.”  The Lord of Kingsgrave kept the Prince’s Pass for centuries, guarding Dorne from foreign enemies.  For generations, the Manwoody’s had warred with not only the Stormlands but the Reach as well, holding the borders of the southernmost realm of Westeros, giving no quarter. 

“Thank you, my Lord.” Prince Mors said, offering the Lord of Kingsgrave a respectable nod of the head which was returned in equal measure. 

“And what of Prince Rhaegar?”  Lord Ormond Yronwood spoke up. 

“He remains in the Tower of Joy with the Stark girl, protected by the Red Mountains within my northern lands.” Lord Dagos Manwoody answered. 

“We will collect the Dragon Prince and march through the Prince’s Pass with your forces, Lord Dagos.” Prince Mors confirmed. 

We?” Came the ever-questioning voice of Lady Qorgyle. 

“My wife and I.” Prince Mors answered in a helpful tone.  “We will travel using the canals…” He meant to go on, but at the mention of the Dornish canals, a handful of Lords and Ladies around the table bristled. 

“Surely, Princess Aeranys should stay at Sunspear where she is safe…” Lord Vorian Dayne offered diplomatically. 

Instead of answering the Lord of Starfall directly, Prince Mors turned to the woman at his side.  “Would you like to see your brother?” He asked her gently.  As she parted her lips to answer her husband, Lord Vorian interrupted again. 

“Princess Aeranys…” He began.

“Can speak for herself,” Mors finished, his voice louder, his eyes dark.  With slow, deliberate movements, he pulled the familiar bone-handled blade from his boot, setting it upon the marble table with a heavy clunk.  Lord Vorian Dayne pursed his lips and cast a sideways glance to the brother at his side, who grinned at him knowingly.  The room fell silent as Princess Aeranys uttered her measured, polite confirmation.  At the sound of her voice, the bird over her shoulder fluttered it’s wings and cocked it’s head to the side. 

“Then it is settled.” Prince Doran agreed, the same bemused smirk still fixed upon his patient expression.  “Princess Aeranys will return to Sunspear on the causeway.  My Lady, upon your return, I would ask you to take your husband’s place at my side in court and council.” Though the words were uttered under the guise of a bestowed honour, the Ruling Prince of Dorne looked to the girl across the table from him as though he were presenting a challenge.  As Princess Aeranys took in a breath and opened her mouth, the first few words falling from her lips, yet another voice interrupted her. 

“It should be a Dornishman who takes Prince Mors’ place.” Quentyn Qorgyle spoke up.  “Someone who knows our lands and people.”  As he looked around the table for support, he found only still lips and blank faces staring back at him.  “Right?” He asked, an incredulous laugh upon his throat.  It wasn’t until Prince Mors rose from his place at the table, taking his knife in hand that he realized his mistake.  “Mother?” He asked, turning to the woman at his side as his eyes grew wide. 

“Be still, my son.” Lady Qorgyle of Sandstone offered in comfort, placing a gentle hand upon her son’s arm.  The expression swimming in her eyes was both dutiful and remorseful.  She knew as well as the others gathered for council what would be coming next. 

The Golden Fang rounded the table, blade in hand, coming to stand over the young heir to Sandstone.  “Your hand, Quentyn.” Prince Mors instructed in a calm, measured voice.  “On the table.” The young lad turned his gaze to the Ruling Prince of Dorne who only leaned back in his chair and folded his hands in his lap, patient and waiting.  The boy couldn’t have been much older than Arianne, and yet there was no mercy to be found in Prince Doran’s dark eyes that looked on in complete acceptance for what was to come.  As commanded, Quentyn Qorgyle of Sandstone placed his hand flat upon the marble table in the council chambers, his breathing becoming short and panicked.  Prince Mors pulled the blade from it’s small sheath, tapping against the boy’s fingers with the steel tip, his grip steady upon the serpentine bones from which it had been carved.  “Pick one.”  He instructed casually.   Shaking, the young man gestured to the smallest of his fingers, looking to his mother in shame.

“Stiff upper lip, boy.” Gerold Dayne of High Hermitage said jovially from across the table.  Lifting his own hand he wiggled three fingers, the empty place where the smallest ought to have been merely a twitching stump.  “We all choose the smallest.  It only hurts for a moment.” He smiled at the young Dornishman, the wicked grin on his lips the only comfort offered by any of the Lords and Ladies within the council chambers. 

Quentyn Qorgyle gripped his mother’s hand as Prince Mors brought his blade down upon the smallest finger of his left hand, severing the digit at the knuckle.  The knife, which Mors had named Fingers in his youth, claimed another prize as its wielder sawed through  flesh, separating the appendange from his hand.  In spite of his youth he did not cry out, instead he clenched his jaws and inhaled sharply as his mother stroked his arm, passively permitting the violence displayed so openly against her son.  Wiping the blood from the blade in his grasp, Prince Mors plucked the end of the young man’s finger from where it lay within a small pool of blood upon the gleaming surface of the marble table as he rounded the council chamber once more, coming to his wife’s side.  Locking eyes with Lady Qorgyle’s first-born son, he held the finger aloft in a flat palm, permitting the bird at his wife’s shoulder to bow his head and snatch up the offering in his beak.  While the black and red feathered creature tipped its head back, swallowing the finger, forever lost, Prince Mors returned to his seat and replaced the knife where it had been sitting upon the table. 

“As you were saying, wife.” He encouraged her casually.  With the blade still poised before her husband, no one dared interrupt Princess Aeranys again for the remainder of the council’s proceedings. 


(https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/7lWl1TsyxynR4M33OIkexTbR0UCnA5haZhmT0AgHG0wnBAOtRLwqYJK8I0Zo9iaF4HTmstA3AnPIUzJ8PPa16T0qobrEfwxZVlCen7UKICjyOMhIEEijte0u_bvzKrlAvBxSpzJc)

(https://media.giphy.com/media/kglNgS9ATr9f3UmEwg/giphy.gif)


“Sit.” Prince Mors instructed coldly. 

The council meeting had been dismissed from the Tower of the Sun, the Lords and Ladies of Dorne making a hasty exit from Prince Mors and his curiously quiet wife.  The bird at his wife’s side had taken flight as she rose from her chair, inspiring those around her to quicken their pace and remove themselves from the beast’s path of flight.  The heir to Dorne had not returned to his chambers but instead had walked in silence with Princess Aeranys as he led them to the Grand Library as he had before.  This time, he had closed the door on Ser Devran and Ser Laenor, leaving the newlyweds alone amidst the vastness of tome and text.  He was angry, that much could be discerned from his stormy disposition as he rounded the table and stood over his wife.  Yet, there was also a sort of desperation in his yellow gaze, something beyond mere frustration. 

“Had I not found myself on the receiving end of your tongue-lashings, more than once, I would think you had not a voice of your own.”  The young Dornishman fumed.  “It seems I have overestimated you, Princess Aeranys.” Prince Mors pointed out as he leaned his weight upon the flat of his hands, pressed against the wooden table between them.  “You are not the girl I remember from your father’s court.”  There was disappointment in his steady gaze, but also a sort of sadness that weighed upon his expression, as though he had just been informed of a great loss.  “Small mercies or no, I will not allow my wife to be treated with such disrespect.”

Righting himself once more, he began to pace back and forth along the length of the wooden table.  The windows behind him were open, carrying in the refreshing afternoon breeze left behind from the rainfall of the previous night.  Yet, the sunlight did nothing to lift his dampened spirits as he looked to the floor beneath his boots, his arms crossed over his chest.  He steamed in silence before turning to his wedded wife once more, looking the part of a man at the end of his rope.  “I am not under the pretense that you find yourself here out of personal desire, so why don’t you enlighten me?”  Prince Mors began. 

“What is your purpose here?” He demanded.  “What do you believe your duty is, as my wife?”
Title: Re: The Golden Sun and the Silver Moon [m]
Post by: asterin on March 22, 2020, 09:37:59 PM
She had expected the council meeting to be another difficult affair. How could she not, when they had all but forced her out the last time the prince had requested her presence? The protests of lords and the condescension of ladies--this, she had foreseen.

What Aeranys had failed to foresee--foolishly so--had been the reaction of her new husband.

As the lords and ladies filtered from the room, her eyes lingered on the form of the boy who was among the first to leave, his mother’s hand at his shoulder. He was but a lad, and now he would go for the rest of his life with a disfigured hand. No one had tried to stop the prince--not Prince Doran, not even the poor boy’s own mother, who had only offered him a hand to hold as his finger was taken from him.

The bird stationed at her side cooed, seemingly asking for attention. Aeranys reached up distractedly, allowing the fierce creature to rub against her hand. When she rose from her chair after her husband, however, the bird also took wing, flying through the spacious hall and off into the outside world. As she reached down to grasp her skirts, her movements suddenly jerked to a halt, her pale face growing even paler. Smeared across her palm in rusty red was the Qorgyle boy’s blood.

Despite the strange haze she was steeped in, the emotion of anger soon pulsed through. She should have spoken up for the poor thing, and yet even Aeranys had been frozen to the spot in horror at the surreal act of cruelty. If she’d said something--if she’d pleaded for the boy, would the Martell prince have shown mercy? It was difficult to say, but the young woman couldn’t help but condemn herself for her inaction. It had been she who he’d offended. She hadn’t even blinked at his words, and yet… 

Why did this keep happening?

Like a girl in a dream, she wordlessly trailed alongside her husband as he strode out of the council room and into the corridors. Behind the royal couple, the pair of knights followed at a respectful distance, watching over their respective liege in silence--and though Princess Aeranys was far too lost in her thoughts to notice, the Velaryon boy’s gaze only swam with mounting desperate concern.

In fact, so distracted was she, it wasn’t until they entered the Grand Library and the Dornish Prince shut the door rather pointedly in the face of their knights that Aeranys realized that her husband was angry. Why in the name of the Seven he was angry, she could not divine.

“Sit,” he ordered, just as he had once done before. Likewise, she again obeyed without question, though she wouldn’t have been at all surprised if he had deigned to kick the chair out from beneath her. Luckily for her, this time he allowed her to sit without incident. Once seated, the princess clasped her hands neatly in her lap--ignoring the fact that one was bloodstained--and lifted her gaze to meet the prince’s, her mother’s mask of infinite patience and attentiveness painted over her delicate features.

Then the storm was upon her. “Had I not found myself on the receiving end of your tongue-lashings, more than once, I would think you had not a voice of your own,” he hissed, frustration clear as day on his face. “It seems I have overestimated you, Princess Aeranys.”

As much as it might’ve stung, as much as indignation burst in her chest, Aeranys bit the words down and kept her silence, her demure expression firmly in place. She wouldn’t repeat her mistake from the night before last--this time, she would not allow him to incite her into acting in a way that would’ve brought shame to her mother.

“You are not the girl I remember from your father’s court,” he suddenly said, and at those words, she met his gaze. There was something other than anger and disappointment in his eyes, something genuine. He was right. The girl she had been in her childhood, before wildfire and madness--she was long dead. A part of her perhaps shared the sentiment deep in his eyes, but there was no mourning who she had been before. It was fortunate for him more than anything else--had she not been tempered by tragedy and her mother’s constant hand, Aeranys would’ve likely pushed him off the ship in the midst of Shipbreaker Bay.

“Small mercies or no, I will not allow my wife to be treated with such disrespect,” he continued, turning to pace in an aggravated manner.

Surely, there were ways to ensure that such disrespect would not occur in ways other than maiming boys, Aeranys thought. Of course, she did not say so.

Her silence only seemed to push him further into his frenetic pacing, until he finally stopped and looked to her again almost pleadingly. “I am not under the pretense that you find yourself here out of personal desire, so why don’t you enlighten me? What is your purpose here? What do you believe your duty is, as my wife?” he demanded, daring to question her about duty.

She knew it well, duty. She had been raised to adhere to it like a lifeline, to consider it of the highest importance in her existence. Finally, Aeranys was moved to speak, meeting his eyes unflinchingly.

“My duty as your wife,” she began, her voice steely as it was steady. “Is the duty of any highborn wife. To bear you heirs, to rear them well. To hold my tongue, to endure any abuse or scandal with grace and patience.” Her eyes flashed as she recited all the things that had been ground into her, the hands clasped so prettily in her lap straining to keep from balling up into fists. “To protect the family from those who would harm them, even it should be you. And finally--above all else--to obey you without question.”

The princess rose from her seat now, lifting her chin spitefully as she continued, her eyes boring into him as she spoke the words as unflinching as her resolve. “This is what my mother taught me to do, milord, by word, by rod, by example. This is what I came prepared to do, regardless of what I might have thought of it. But seeing that you are unwilling to let me perform my duties, I am at a loss.” This time it was she who rounded the table to face him, steps as measured and deliberate as a dance. Coming to a stop before him, Aeranys stared into his oddly colored eyes as if they would at last reveal his secrets to her. “Since I am so useless to you, now you must enlighten me, milord. What is it that you want?”
Title: Re: The Golden Sun and the Silver Moon [m]
Post by: Reigning King on March 23, 2020, 01:20:49 AM
“My duty as your wife,” she repeated the words as though they left a bad taste upon her tongue.  “Is the duty of any highborn wife. To bear you heirs, to rear them well. To hold my tongue, to endure any abuse or scandal with grace and patience.” As her violet eyes flashed to him, he met her gaze at first in fierce, rearing challenge, expecting her words to be spoken in sarcastic insult.  When instead he found genuine belief, he found his mask falling away replaced by a blank and unyielding confusion. 

“To protect the family from those who would harm them, even it should be you. And finally--above all else--to obey you without question.” Prince Mors’ boyish face fell slack in wonder.  So honourably and whole-heartedly she described a life of compliant suffering.  His brow arched, creasing the smooth skin of his forehead as he watched her in mystification.  Was this really Princess Aeranys Targaryen?  Could this truly be the girl so mighty and proud she had pushed the Golden Fang to the floor for the slight of a laugh when he had been a mere hatchling? 

“Since I am so useless to you, now you must enlighten me, milord. What is it that you want?” The wife of Prince Mors Nymeros Martell had rounded the table to stand before him, looking down at him from her lifted chin.  Though she stared him down with fire in her eyes, she was met with only a sincere and open expression from her husband.  For a moment, he saw her as he remembered her.  Why was it only here, when she shouted at him, when she scolded him, when she hated him… Why was it only in those moments that he saw the girl he remembered?

(https://media.giphy.com/media/XxKtf2jAdUUfK/giphy.gif)

“Pardon,” he had said in a serious voice that had sounded out of place in such a small boy.  “Would you do me the honour of a dance, Princess Aeranys?”

Blinking, Prince Mors left the distant memories of minstrels and dances and pretty girls, his eyes returning to the woman who stood before him now.  The eyes that looked up at him, sparkling like amethysts in the sunlight that poured into the Grand Library, spoke only of contempt and displeasure.  Yet, as he stepped towards her, his own face kept that same open, sincere expression.  The answer to her question came easily, falling at once from his ready lips.  “I want the girl I remember.”

For a moment, they stood before one another in their usual, tensed silence.  As violets blended with yellows, her gaze narrowing upon him as though to discern his very thoughts, the expression upon Prince Mors’ face began changing as an idea struck him.  His eyes tore away from hers as his head began turning, roaming the shelves that surrounded him for choice titles.  Lips parted as he raised a thoughtful, shaking finger.  “I would like to change the terms of our agreement,” he proposed as he stepped away from his wife and began moving around the Grand Library. 

“You know,” he began as he plucked various books and scrolls from the shelves.  “There’s nothing in this world I find more disappointing than an obedient woman…” As he spoke he disappeared behind the stacks, returning with an arm full.  He approached his new wife, intention set in his brow as he laid the materials he had collected before her on the table between them.  “The women in my land,” pausing, he permitted his line of sight to meet hers.  “In our land,” he corrected himself before he continued.  “Women are not raised to hold their tongue or endure abuse,” he pointed out as his hands arranged the texts before them as a maester might.  “This is Dorne, Princess.”  Prince Mors explained, his eyes meeting hers from across the table.  “And in Dorne, women rule.” 

Holding her gaze he took the seat he had previously commanded her to take.  Looking up at her from where he sat, he set his hands to the materials before him.  “Teach me how to be good,” he proposed.  “And I will teach you how to be useful.”

When the doors of the Grand Library opened again, it was after a reluctant knock from Ser Devran.  The Dornish Knight eased the door open and inched his large frame inside, surprised to see the pair so engrossed in whatever they studied, side by side within the glow of the afternoon sun, they hadn’t even noticed him enter.  He watched them for a moment, admiring how his Prince conducted his lessons.  Ser Devran took a moment, considering the possibility of leaving the young couple to a pleasant afternoon.  Yet, there were some commands the Knight had no choice but to heed, even beyond his own Prince’s word. 

“My Prince,” he began, carefully.  “I am sorry to interrupt.  Your father has asked for you.” Ser Devran informed, his head bowed.

“Thank you,” Prince Mors said as he rose from where he had been seated beside his wife.  The Dornish noble paid the royal Princess a polite farewell, stepping away from the table and joining Ser Devran at the doors of the Grand Library.  As the pair passed into the corridor, Ser Laenor filled the space, stepping past the doors bound for his Lady liege.  Moving to cross one another, Ser Laenor could not keep the scorn from his eyes as he passed the young man who would inherit the seat of Dorne, and Prince Mors did not fail to notice.
Title: Re: The Golden Sun and the Silver Moon [m]
Post by: asterin on March 23, 2020, 07:20:34 AM
Every time she expected him to grow angry at her, he didn’t. The vexation that had been deep in his eyes and written on his expression had dissipated by the time she had placed herself squarely in reach, having first turned to dumbfounded confusion and then to something much more thoughtful. Her challenge had scarce left her lips before he replied, the words falling from his lips as if there had ever only been one answer for him. “I want the girl I remember,” he told her.

She could’ve thought that he was trying to be clever again, trying to needle her into losing her temper. The girl he remembered from all those years ago--the girl who’d wanted nothing more than to run amok with horses and play just as the boys did, the girl who’d thought nothing of having two of her teeth knocked out before an important event--she was dead and gone, didn’t he understand? There was no trace of her carefree abandon or reckless spirit left in her. Besides, the very reason her keepers had tried so hard to tear her down and make her anew was for the sole reason that a princess of such character would never be acceptable as a bride. How could he stand there and tell her such a bold-faced lie as to claim that it was that girl he wanted as a wife?

Her husband, however, hardly seemed unsettled by the way she watched him, unafraid to have her dissect his words and expression with a gaze that was sharp as a knife. Then suddenly something appeared to dawn on him, and he turned away from her. “I would like to change the terms of our agreement,” he remarked as he darted from shelf to shelf, busily picking out tomes from the extensive collection. Having already been burned on the grounds of their former ‘agreement,’ the young woman couldn’t help but be wary of the notion, and so she kept quiet, her eyes narrowed in suspicion. What he said next, however, uttered musingly as he perused the books, gave her pause.

“There’s nothing in this world I find more disappointing than an obedient woman.”

She drew in a small breath, her gaze flicking to and fro as a realization of her own dawned upon her. Of course, the obvious revelation was simply that her husband indeed was speaking without falsehood--that he truly was something quite different from the lords and lordlings she had been raised to wed. What had also risen in her mind, however, had been the memory sparkling emerald eyes. Ah, so that had been the intent of the green-eyed beauty. She had attempted to sabotage their courtship by advising her to be the thing he hated most. It wasn’t fury or shock that came along afterward--after all, her advice had only been a single grain of sand upon the crushing design of her upbringing. Though what she felt for the girl was nothing near anything vindictive, there was something bittersweet in her expression. However, even that was tucked away as soon as the prince reemerged, hauling a stack of books to her side and laying them out neatly on top of the wooden table.

“The women in my land--in our land, women are not raised to hold their tongue or endure abuse,” he explained, his tone as patient as an instructing maester. Aeranys, for her part, listened carefully, though her arms had risen to cross themselves doubtfully about her chest. “This is Dorne, Princess,” the Martell prince reminded her as he seated himself, “And in Dorne, women rule.” She nodded solemnly, though she could not help but think of the fact that he had yet to mention the so-called terms of his new agreement. Her unease, however, was to be amplified exponentially the moment he revealed his proposal.

 “Teach me how to be good,” he told her, an expectant look in his golden eyes. “And I will teach you how to be useful.”

This time, it was her turn to go slack-jawed, her lips parting for the incredulous words that would not come. He could not be serious. To be good--goodness itself--was a slippery thing to teach, even define. It was not as if she was a septa, able to teach morality through the framework that the Faith provided. She was not adequate to teach goodness in the purest sense, for she only knew what her own conscience and heart told her was good and bad. Goodness differed for each individual, so how was she meant to teach such a thing? Her swirling thoughts, however, suddenly came to a halt and a wondrous laugh escaped her, so brief and faint it sounded nothing more than a breath. But of course! Of course. Being good meant something different to each person, just as being useful meant something different to every individual. It was a fair bargain if there ever had been one.

Her expression was unreadable as she moved to seat herself in the chair next to his. “I find those terms agreeable,” she answered calmly, her tone sounding almost business-like as she angled her body so that they would be able to share a book without discomfort. When she turned to face him, however, the Golden Fang would find that she was smiling, the expectant spark in his eyes mirrored in her gaze.



*****************



The moment the doors opened and the Dornish prince emerged with his knight in tow, Laenor was searching for a glimpse of the princess. The hours of silence had been absolutely unnerving to the knight, who had been privy to the faint sound of Mors Martell venting his frustrations at his bride. Had it not been for the knowing eye of the Dornish knight at his side, he would have burst in there and then, but instead he’d been forced to stand there, driving himself sick with worry.

He hurried through the opening, unable to restrain himself from sending a disdainful glower at the monstrous prince before he headed inside in search of his lady-liege. He found her seated at the table in the center of the library, still focused on the books in front of her. Still, as he brought himself to a stop a few feet away, she seemed to sense his presence, lifting her head from the material she had been so intently studying. “Yes, Ser Laenor?” she inquired, though she did not turn around.

Caught between relief and confusion, he stepped closer to the table, offering her a proper bow before turning his eyes to what she had piled before her. “You seem busy, princess. What, if I may ask, are you studying?”

“How to be useful,” she answered simply, her gaze falling back to the text before her, unaware of the way that her knight instantly bristled at her words.

“Useful?” he echoed, forcing his voice to remain even.

“Yes,” she finally glanced up at him, though her eyes didn’t quite meet his before drifting back away. She was trying to hide it, that much was clear to him--but oh, he could feel her melancholy as closely as he always had. He longed to reach out and comfort her, but she was far removed from him now, more than ever before.  “We are in a different land, Ser Laenor,” she explained, “Dornish sensibilities are sure to differ from those of King’s Landing, isn’t that so?”

“That seems wise, milady,” he ground out, swallowing the fury that threatened to lurch up within him. Princess Aeranys’ orders had been plain, and he did not dare incur her displeasure again, not when something within him withered even now at the recent memory. Of course, he could read between the lines and see the truth of the matter--Prince Mors had dared to call her useless.

He watched her read in silence, taking in the way her brow furrowed low from time to time, a finger guiding her discerning gaze along the text, the way her lips would move silently as if to repeat a segment to herself--and he felt his heart ache for her. It was a cowardly thing to insult a lady when she was without anyone to defend her honor, and to think that the princess, of all people, could be unfairly deemed useless, was an offense he would not let go so readily.
Title: Re: The Golden Sun and the Silver Moon [m]
Post by: Reigning King on March 23, 2020, 03:47:30 PM
“Useful?”

“I think she could be.” Prince Mors answered his father as the pair sat across from one another.  The young man held an ointment in one hand, spreading the salve with as much care as possible across his father’s swollen knuckles and wrists.  His face twisted with discomfort to have any pressure, no matter how slight, upon his aching joints. 

“In what way?” Prince Doran inquired patiently upon a slowly exhaled breath. 

“We reviewed the principal Dornish Houses, their histories, unique customs, granaries…”

“Granaries?” Prince Doran repeated, the surprise blending with the telltale pitch of approval in his steady voice. 

“She has a mind for numbers,” Prince Mors elaborated helpfully. “She was very interested in the small folk, how they’re fed and protected.  I was showing her the routes of trade when you summoned me.” As though the man’s hand was as delicate as a sheet of glass, Mors rested his wrist carefully within his lap, reaching for the next.

“It seems I chose the right woman to hold your seat.” Prince Doran remarked.

“You chose the only woman fit to hold my seat.” His son countered, flicking his gaze to his father’s.  Princess Aeranys was no mere woman.  She was a Princess of Dorne, a member of House Martell.  Her children would carry the blood of Princess Nymeria of the Rhoyne, the blood of Dragon Lords of Old Valyria; their hearts would be filled with the burning flame of conquerors.  In the eyes of Dorne, the unbowed, the unbent, the unbroken; she was just as valuable as any of her male counterparts.  Perhaps, with time and guidance, she would become even more valuable still. 

“As you say.” Prince Doran replied in acceptance, nodding his head to the young man who would inherit his title.  “I will be expecting great things from her.”

“As you say.” The Golden Fang replied in kind. 

“Are you afraid?” The Ruling Prince of Dorne asked after a time.  “War has a way of changing a man.”

“I’m not afraid of war.” Prince Mors replied easily. Killing, no matter how senseless, had never been the sort of thing to weigh upon the young man’s conscience. 

“What are you afraid of?” It was a question that the Prince of Dorne has never asked his son before. 

“Failure.” Mors answered, keeping his attention on the task before him, fingers busily dipping into the tin of ointment.  The answer was a simple one, borrowed from a conversation with Ser Devran. 

“Then take heart, my boy, and be brave.” The aging man advised his son.  “A life without failure is a life without lesson.” The cryptically spoken wisdom lingered in the back of Prince Mors’ mind, even as he bid farewell to his father and found himself wandering the corridors of the Old Palace.  Prince Doran would take his supper in his room this evening, but Mors’ wife would be waiting for him in the Water Gardens with the rest of his family. 

Prince Mors neared the doors that would take him into the Halls of the Summer Palace, the sunlight fading from the sky.  Barring his path, two familiar men stood, quibbling in hissing, hushed voices.  Ser Devran seemed to be advising Ser Laenor of something or other, advice that the Knight of the Kingsguard appeared loathed to accept.  Upon spotting the approaching Prince, their voices became louder, their dispute more intense until at last, Ser Laenor tore away from the Dornish Knight and started instead towards his liege. 

(https://media.giphy.com/media/WOTVMYIMgMYnw8TqsC/giphy.gif)

“I apologize for this, my Prince,” Ser Devran began, trailing behind the furious young man as he marched towards the Golden Fang, eyes locked firmly upon his target.  “I told him not to…” The Dornishman’s voice fell off as his Prince raised a silencing hand. 

“What is it that vexes you, Ser?” Prince Mors inquired patiently. 

“You, Prince Mors.” Ser Laenor spat venomously as he squared himself to the heir of Dorne.  “You and your disregard for your wife.”  The way he said the word made it sound as though it were an insult. 

“You’ll have to be more specific.” Prince Mors answered casually. 

“Princess Aeranys derves an honourable husband, someone gentle and strong, someone…” As Ser Laenor rambled, the Dornish Prince before him looked on with a calculating stare.  The expression that had started out receptive and patient, quickly turned to seething disdain as a revelation settled, the final pieces of the puzzle coming together, in his keen observation. 

“Someone like you?” Prince Mors finished. 

Ser Laenor met his stern yellow eyes with ferocity, brave in spite of his foolish endeavour.  With accusation on his tongue, he closed in on the Dornish Prince.  “You will be good to her, Prince Mors, or…” He meant to go on, but Prince Mors did not give him the chance to finish. 

“Or what?” The Golden Fang countered.  They stood nearly chest to chest now, men brought to the brink of blows by a shared interest in a maiden’s virtue.  Prince Mors had never cared for cliches.  “What are you going to do, Ser Laenor?” As he spoke, the unarmed Dornishman brought his palms flat to the Knight’s breastplate, giving him a hard shove.  The honoured boy of House Valeryon stumbled back a few steps, finding his feet and turning on the offending party, his face twisting into something ugly and unbecoming.  In a reflexive instinct, he drew his blade from where it had been sheathed upon his hip. 

“Ser Laenor!” Ser Devran exclaimed, shock overtaking his features as he too reached for the hilt of his Dornish steel.  He was halted in place again however, by that same silencing hand, raised so casually.  The Dornish Knight resumed his passive, relaxed stance, hands clasped behind his back.  It was not his liege he worried for, but rather the armoured Knight who stood before him, donning the very chainmail forged on his behalf as ordered by the Prince he dared insult.  What the Knight of King’s Landing failed to realize was the danger in the smile that twitched at the corners of Prince Mors’ still lips. 

“Come then, Ser Laenor, Whitecloak of the King’s Guard.” Holding his arms out before him, he turned smiling eyes to the man who dared poise his blade in his direction, the itch of his bloodlust crawling up his throat.  “Defend your Lady’s honour…”

With shimmering armour and a swinging sword, Ser Laenor surged forward.  The anger burning in his heart gave him conviction, but it also made him clumsy.  Prince Mors sidestepped the Knight’s thrust, reaching at once for his most vulnerable point.  Catching his right wrist as it arched upward, offsetting the momentum of his strike, the Golden Fang squeezed down hard on the tender flesh, fingernails digging into the finely wrapped bandages.  Ser Laenor’s footing failed him as his body curled upon the assaulted stump where his hand had once been, Prince Mors wrenching the wrist around his back, sending pain shooting up to his shoulder.  Turning his head, Ser Laenor brought his angry, indigo eyes up to meet those of his assailant as the Golden Fang’s yellow gaze came rushing in.  He felt his nose crunch beneath the force of Prince Mors’ heaving forehead, pitching straight into the center of his face.  The slender man, who donned only the tunics and perfumes of a Lordling, let the decorated Knight in his grasp to fall limply to the floor, spinning eyes speaking to the black dots that must be spotting his vision. 

“Ser Devran,” he uttered in a low voice.  At once the Dornish Knight was at his side, offering a kerchief from his pocket to the Prince who stood over the boy who had been foolish enough to believe he could teach the Golden Fang a lesson.  “Gather your men.” He commanded as he took the pale linen extended to him, wiping the blood from his forehead and then his hands.  “Have Ser Laenor escorted back to his room.”  As Ser Devran nodded and stepped away from the feuding men, slipping through the doors into the Halls of the Water Gardens, Ser Laenor was stirred from his stupor. 

“No,” he began groggily, blinking against the blow he had received to the head.  “No, Princess Aeranys…”

“It is your rooms or my dungeons, Ser.” Prince Mors reminded him.  When Ser Laenor looked up to meet his gaze, the realization of his folly landing heavy upon his face, he was met with black eyebrows raised in challenge. “You’re surprised?” He asked.  “You are a guest who has drawn steel against his host, a Prince of Dorne, and unarmed Prince of Dorne; I might add.” As Ser Devran reappeared in the corridor, with his men upon his flanks, Prince Mors folded his hands behind his back and lowered himself so that he was close to the crumpled Knight.  Speaking in a voice hushed enough for the words to be for Ser Laenor alone, Mors uttered his final, quiet threat. 

“I’ve seen the way you watch my wife, Ser.”  The Golden Fang hissed with his forked tongue, lips curled over his sharp teeth in a snarl.  “You know nothing of honour.”

“Take him,” he commanded as he righted himself, straightening his tunics.  “My supper is getting cold.”

The blood-stained kerchief was tucked into a pocket discreetly before Mors took his place beside his wife at the long table at the head of the Hall.  The Summer Palace had played host to many of the Lords and Ladies who had joined the masses gathered at Sunspear, answering the call of the banners for the rebellion that intensified North of the Dornish borders.  They took notice of their notorious Prince entering the vastness of the room, as expected, the food before him had gone cold.  Taking a fork and knife to his plate, he began shovelling what would have been a wonderful meal had it been enjoyed warm, into his mouth.  Tension coiled his muscles as he sat stiffly and silently, his even-tempered mask failing to hide his unease.  At his wife’s soft word, he turned to her, a tiny drop of scorn glimmering in his golden eyes. 

“Dinner first.” Answered monotonously, turning back to his supper plate.  “Then you can explain to me why I should show mercy instead of cutting out your Knight’s tongue and feeding it to my snakes.”
Title: Re: The Golden Sun and the Silver Moon [m]
Post by: asterin on March 24, 2020, 07:47:57 AM
It was within the grand Sept that the dying rays of sunshine found the princess, pacing down the aisle she had walked just the day prior. The many decorations had yet to be fully cleared away, leaving the surroundings not much changed from her wedding day, but to Aeranys, the events of the previous day almost felt like they had transpired a week ago.

She had only finished up the material she had been studying under her husband’s patient instruction, choosing to return to her chambers to rest before dinner would be held in the Water Gardens in two hours’ time. When she stepped through the doors, she was greeted by the sight of a tray of delicacies, likely placed there by Septa Oranea’s orders, perhaps in case the princess returned to her chambers with an empty stomach. It hadn’t been long afterward that the princess decided to make a brief visit to the Sept. When she opened the doors, she was both surprised and relieved to see that the blond knight was absent from his post. It wasn’t as if she had ever found his presence a burden before, but after she had come to understand the nature of his feelings towards her, it had only made things...difficult.

So it was alone and unaccompanied that the Targaryen princess made her way to the now-familiar spot before the Mother, her sharp eyes having caught sight of Croll Sand scrubbing away at the marble near the base of the gargantuan statue. “Hello, good brother,” she called, and at the sound he turned, keeping his head bowed low. This time he did not seem so startled, likely having recognized her voice already.

“Milady,” he bobbed his head in greeting, though it was hardly possible for him to lower his head any more than it already was. “Are you here to pray?”

“Yes,” Aeranys answered, though her reasoning had been two-fold. There was a brief interlude of silence as she considered her next words.. “You were right,” she began rather simply. At his bemused expression, she clarified, “About my betrothed.” Well, he wasn’t quite her betrothed anymore, but it could’ve been argued that they weren’t husband and wife in the truest sense yet. “We spoke about the matter today, and I think we may have reached a reasonable solution.”

“That is wonderful news, milady,” he replied politely, nodding his heavy head.

“It is. And so, I brought you these as a token of my gratitude.” Carefully, she placed a small bundle made from a cloth napkin against his hand. He seemed to grasp for it out of instinct more than anything else, tentatively bringing the bundle to his nose.

“...Dates?” he hazarded a guess, sounding doubtful. “No, figs?”

“Both,” she affirmed, an impressed smile spreading on her lips. “Dried dates and figs, as well some nuts.”

“Thank you, milady, but…” the man frowned, seemingly at a loss. “Gratitude towards what?”

“For your counsel, of course,” the princess returned matter-of-factly, though there was warmth in her words. “Thank you.”

The confusion loosened from his furrowed brows as he began muttering humble denials, but even with his head lowered so, Aeranys thought she saw a hint of a smile on his broken features. Though he wouldn’t have been able to tell, she, too, felt herself smile.


***************************


Surrounded by the chatter of the multitude of lords and ladies and courtiers alike, Aeranys waited for the missing prince to join them. As Arianne had noted, it was very unlike the Martell Prince to be late for a meal. At first, none had been foolish enough to begin dining without their prince present, but as the food had begun to grow cold, Elia Martell, ever the gracious hostess, had called for the meal to start. As for Aeranys, she had yet to take more than a few polite bites of her food and a measured sip of wine. While it was mostly out of consideration for her husband, the niggling worry was also effective in staying her hand. Indeed, the princess could not help but be concerned about what was keeping him. He had been called away to his father’s chambers the last she’d seen of him. It wouldn’t have been out of the question for such a sudden meeting to mean that there was bad news involving the conflict that had stormed the Seven Kingdoms, and the princess found herself growing increasingly anxious.

The brief moment of relief that she felt upon sighting his figure, however, was instantly muddied as she recognized the signs of stress he usually seemed to be immune to. She allowed him a moment as he seated himself and began to eat, but it was not long before she turned to the young man beside her. “Is everything alright?” she inquired, keeping her voice low lest someone overhear.

He looked at her then, and she saw something dangerously close to contempt lurking in his gaze. “Dinner first,” he told her stonily, “Then you can explain to me why I should show mercy instead of cutting out your Knight’s tongue and feeding it to my snakes.”

Her lips parted, but her words failed her, turned to ash on her tongue. He had already resumed eating, his yellow eyes kept forward, but it took her a second to do the same. Turning to her place, she forced herself to begin eating as if nothing out of the ordinary had been said to her. Though she might have appeared composed, already her thoughts had rushed to the terrible conclusion she had been fearing.

Ser Laenor had done something horribly foolish.

This was exactly what she had been trying to avoid. No matter how furious or upset she had become on account of the prince, Aeranys had taken care to keep those emotions hidden from others, especially from Ser Laenor. He was honorable and chivalrous, more well-intentioned than most, and in that way she imagined he might’ve been the kind of person Daeron could have resembled had her brother not been born so sickly and frail. Indeed, Ser Laenor was much like the knights that gentle Daeron had so admired in the tales and bards’ songs. Unfortunately, she also knew that the world they walked was not so simple as the one painted in those stories. A well-intentioned fool would charge straight to his death, and the moment she’d seen the anger in his eyes as they stood in the Water Gardens, she knew he would do just that for her.

Because he was in love, and love made fools out of men.


(https://media.giphy.com/media/gjNPUW0Yuci3THNglu/giphy.gif)


The fork and knife that had been moving mechanically finally came to a stop, her slender hands lowering the cutlery onto the cloth napkin beside her plate. For a moment she was still, trying to keep up the ruse of perfect poise she had been forcing herself to uphold, but it was no use. She had to go see him--had to know just what had happened. Swallowing with difficulty, her gaze flicked only briefly to the prince next to her before she rose from the table. Uttering a well-mannered excuse she made a swift exit from the banquet, leaving behind her husband and half-eaten dinner to track down the poor fool she had created.
Title: Re: The Golden Sun and the Silver Moon [m]
Post by: Reigning King on March 24, 2020, 11:59:49 AM
Ser Devran stood before the wooden door of Ser Laenor’s rooms.  His hand rested loosely on the hilt of his blade, his eyes straight ahead.  The men that stood on either side of him remained just as vigilant and stoney-faced as their leader.  None moved from their post, not even to adjust their weight from one foot to the other.  They stood as statues, even as the billowing silks of an approaching Lady turned the corner and came fluttering down the hall.  When she reached them, squaring her shoulders and meeting the Dornish Knight’s gaze directly, he stayed unmoving.  If it hadn’t been obvious by her husband’s stormy disposition, then it became so the moment her eyes touched upon the man before her, whose teeth cracked between a clenched jaw.  Her precious Knight had gone too far this time.  Silently, he reached for the handle at his back and swung open the door.  As Princess Aeranys stepped across the threshold into the humble quarters, Ser Devran followed in after, closing the door behind them both. 

The fair-haired Knight sat at the edge of his bed, a cloth pressed to his nose.  The bruising on his face had already begun to turn a sickly reddish blue, his eyes swelling shut so that only narrow slits of indigo peered up at the young woman who had entered his chambers.  The armour that had been decorating his person was laid out upon a nearby surface, leaving the Knight sitting in his tunics, fresh bandages on his absent hand.  With elation lifting his heavy expression, he smiled up at the Princess before him as he spoke her name, whispering it as though it were a prayer. 

“Princess Aeranys,” he uttered, relieved.  “I didn’t think he would let you come.”

Ser Devran couldn’t stop the scoff that came rushing up his throat, pouring from his lips.  At the sound, Ser Laenor turned his attention to the Knight that intruded upon his precious, private moment with his Lady liege.  With asking in his swollen eyes, he turned to the Dornish Knight who had saved him from the fires of Estermont.  “Ser Devran, might I speak alone with Princess Aeranys?”

“No.” Came the curt, cold reply. 

Ser Laenor parted his lips his protest but stopped short upon noticing the stern way the Princess he so loved regarded him.  She stood with her hands folded in front of her, mouth pressed into a hard line.  Tilting her head slightly, she spoke to Ser Devran behind her while keeping her eyes on her sworn sword before her.  “What has he done?” Princess Aeranys asked.

“What hasn’t he done?” Ser Devran retorted sarcastically, barely keeping the exasperation from his voice. 

“No, my Lady…” Ser Laenor rushed to fill the heavy silence, the words that fell from eager lips were blundering and graceless.  “I was only doing my duty, defending your honour…”

“Honour?” Ser Devran repeated, unable to stop himself as he stepped forward into the room, coming to Princess Aeranys’ side.  “Our healers should be preparing for war and instead my Prince sends them to your bedside,” there was incredulousness upon his furrowed brow and anger in his voice.  “He has fed you, clothed you --”

“And imprisoned me, it would seem…” Ser Laenor interrupted. 

“You drew steel upon an unarmed Prince of Dorne within his own walls.” Ser Devran pointed out, his voice rising as he stepped past Princess Aeranys.  “Your head should be on a spike!”  He raged.  The Dornish Knight would have gone on, if not for the feather-light touch of Princess Aeranys’ delicate hand upon his arm.  Exhaling deeply through his nose, Ser Devran righted himself and returned to his post near the door, eyes flicking to the Princess in his company as he moved. 

“I apologize for losing my temper in your presence, Princess Aeranys.” Ser Devran offered, his words more calm and measured this time.  “I’m afraid I’ve grown weary of the claim that my Prince has mistreated you.”  As their eyes met from across the room, a deeper knowing swam within his brown gaze.  Ser Devran of House Toyne knew his Prince, he knew the young man’s heart, perhaps better than anyone else.  The Golden Fang, for all the notoriety, for all the gossips, for all the ill-fated souls who had crossed his path in the wrong moment… Mors Nymeros Martell was not a monster. 


(https://66.media.tumblr.com/0137a868c0e3c428d08dcc500b740ad7/tumblr_p1h9c8G5RZ1txqqiio1_400.gifv)
(https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/7lWl1TsyxynR4M33OIkexTbR0UCnA5haZhmT0AgHG0wnBAOtRLwqYJK8I0Zo9iaF4HTmstA3AnPIUzJ8PPa16T0qobrEfwxZVlCen7UKICjyOMhIEEijte0u_bvzKrlAvBxSpzJc)
The knock came distantly, long after the sun had set beyond the horizon.  Prince Mors righted himself from where he had been leaning upon the stone balustrade of the terrace, pulling his eyes from the flickering lights of the Shadow City to the opening doors of his chambers and the young woman who inched her way inside.  The expression she wore on her face was difficult to read.  She looked displeased, though not necessarily with her husband, which was a fortuitous change of pace.  By contrast, Prince Mors’ visage had hardened into something beyond mere stone or ice.  Like his Knight, the Dornish Prince had grown weary.  Weary of mercy, weary of accusation, weary of climbing the mountainous challenge that his new wife had proven herself to be. 

“I assume you’re here to plead mercy for Ser Laenor.”  Prince Mors uttered complacently, an exhaustive sigh settling his tensed shoulders.  “You understand, of course, that we are in the midst of a war, don’t you?”  He asked in a tired voice.  “Will you ask me to show the rebels mercy as well?  Should I spare each and every soul until one is brave enough to put a knife through my back?”  Crossing the room to put himself before her, he stepped around her to approach the plush chairs positioned before the empty, cold hearth of his chambers.  There was a practicality to the sentiment he uttered in his sarcastic drawl.  A Lord had to command respect from his subjects.  If they did not fear him, they would not respect him.  This seemed to be a reality that Princess Aeranys was unwilling to accept within her kind, tender heart. 

“Please,” he said politely, gesturing to the seat across from the one in which he sat.  “I am sure you have already concluded as much, but I will tell you plainly,” Prince Mors began as his wife took the empty place before him, meeting the violet gaze of Old Valyria.  “I am not a good man.” He said bluntly.  “I don’t pretend to know what goodness is…” He went on.  “I’ve been told it is a voice that whispers in your ear, an ache in the belly… whatever it is, I don’t have it.”  With another sigh he leaned back in his seat, crossing one leg over the other, his face of weariness not dissimilar to the one Ser Devran had shown her. 

“So tell me, wife, how do you know?  How do you determine who is deserving of your sweet mercy, beyond the selfish desires of your own heart?” 
Title: Re: The Golden Sun and the Silver Moon [m]
Post by: asterin on March 24, 2020, 05:57:08 PM
The look on the blond knight’s face was something akin to having been struck in the stomach as the typically stoic Dornish knight raged against him. The slight young woman’s expression, however, did not flinch, her features an inscrutable mask as she gently laid a hand on the furious knight’s arm. Ser Devran was quick to heed her wordless request, moving away and repressing the anger that was hot in his belly. “I apologize for losing my temper in your presence, Princess Aeranys.” Ser Devran addressed her evenly, but there was a saddened frustration in his eyes as he looked at her. “I’m afraid I’ve grown weary of the claim that my Prince has mistreated you.”

“No apology is needed, Ser Devran,” she returned calmly. However, once she turned to the battered knight in front of her she said nothing, only regarding him silently. Apparently seeing his chance, Ser Laenor jumped to defend his actions to his beloved princess.

“Milady, I can explain,” he began hastily, but he was immediately cut off as she raised a hand.

“Barely half a day ago, I commanded you to never speak ill of my husband again,” she began, her voice as quiet as it was stern. “Was that order so unclear that you believed that assaulting him would not go against my wishes?”

“I was only trying to protect you, princess,” he insisted doggedly. “To make sure he would be good to you..”

“What if Prince Mors hadn’t been a skilled fighter?” the Dornish knight behind her spoke up, tossing out the sentiment with the twist of contempt in his voice. “What then?”

The blonde knight only looked confused, but the princess knew exactly what Ser Devran was insinuating. “Had you injured him gravely, or even slain him, what do you think would happen to the Martell-Targaryen alliance?” she asked her knight, her tone still even despite the way her eyes flashed.

“I came here for the sake of that very alliance, Ser Laenor,” she reminded him. “I came here so that I might protect my family and all those that would suffer in a war. I came here, to a court filled with lords and ladies who will send their fathers, brothers, and sons to die in the name of my brother’s war, and I came without a single septa or a lady-in-waiting to be my companion.” Unable to withstand the mounting fire in her piercing gaze, the youngest knight of the Kingsguard averted his eyes, but he would find no respite as the princess continued. “I only had you, Ser Laenor, and all I needed of you was for you to be by my side in this new land. Nothing more.”

“But he was hurting you--” he flared up stubbornly.

“Did I ever tell you that he was hurting me?” Aeranys interrupted, her frustration finally beginning to bleed into her voice. “Did I so much as imply that he was ungallant? Did you see any bruises?”

“No, but--”

“Then why would you come to such a conclusion?” she demanded cuttingly.

“You were in pain, I could tell!” he cried, desperation and emotion moving him to lurch up onto his unsteady feet. “Nobody else might have noticed when you were in pain, but I always have. I’ve watched over you for nearly six years, princess, I know your sadness as if it were my own,” he claimed fervently. “After the wedding you could not even bear to even look me in the eye when you spoke of him!”

A deafening silence filled the room, the three people within standing there without a word uttered. When the quiet was broken, it was by the sound of a sigh escaping the princess’ lips. “You know nothing of me, Ser Laenor,” she said, delivering a crushing blow in the gentlest of voices. Unlike the moments prior, her gaze was as soft as her tone, sympathetic and sad as she looked at the boy who she had ruined. “If you’d known me as well as you claimed, you would’ve known that it wasn’t my husband that pained me in your presence.” The knight seemed to be struck into silence once more, staring at her in disbelief with his wide indigo eyes.

Drawing in a breath, the princess pulled herself to her full height, her composure in place once more as she neatly folded her hands before her silken skirts. “I will ask Prince Mors to spare your life,” she assured the Velayron knight in a measured tone. “I will beg if I have to.” She ignored the miserable look he gave her, no doubt guilt-ridden for the position he had put his lady-liege into. After all, Aeranys knew the next words would be worse than the former. “Should he heed my word, you will be sent back to King’s Landing as soon as a ship is able,” she added, her tone ringing with finality.

As she had expected, Ser Laenor’s misery turned to shock, then to the despair of a horrible realization. “What? Princess, no, please--” he choked out, as if the prospect of being sent away from her was a fate he feared more than death.

“You will not be sent back in disgrace, if I have anything to do with it,” the princess continued unflinchingly. “Your orders were to escort me to Dorne for my wedding, and you have fulfilled your duties admirably. My father will no doubt appreciate having another knight of the Kingsguard to defend him and my mother in the Red Keep.”

“But--but, who will protect you then, milady?” he managed in a small voice, eyes wide and panicked.

“That will be none of your concern now,” she answered simply, already turning away towards the door. She did not look back even as he fell to his knees to beg, to plead, leaving him broken on the floor as the door slammed shut with a resounding sound behind her.


*******************


It was only after she had collected herself that she made her way to gain an audience with her husband, knocking upon the large double doors she had emerged from just that morning. Pushing all but her goal out of her tumultuous thoughts, Aeranys stepped carefully into his chambers, her gaze wandering the spacious room before settling on the familiar form of the Dornish prince. He looked exhausted and spent, something in his eyes so similar to that of his faithful knight’s. He, of course, already knew why she was here, and with no small amount of weary resignation, he led her to a pair of chairs and motioned for her to sit.

“I don’t pretend to know what goodness is,” he admitted to her, looking nothing short of drained as he leaned into his chair. “I’ve been told it is a voice that whispers in your ear, an ache in the belly… whatever it is, I don’t have it.” He looked to her, meeting her gaze with his odd yellow one. Unlike the many times prior, there was no calculation in their depths, just a bone-deep weariness. “So tell me, wife, how do you know?” he posed the question to her. “How do you determine who is deserving of your sweet mercy, beyond the selfish desires of your own heart?”

It wasn’t a question she had ever been asked before, and for a moment the Targaryen girl was silent, weighing his words in her mind. “I don’t think you need to know goodness to be merciful, milord,” she began quietly. “Just understanding and the ability to remember.” The lilac gaze that had been averted in thought returned to meet his. “The ability to remember a time when we ourselves were reckless, or foolish,” Aeranys explained, her words growing in gentle conviction as she spoke. “To remember our own mistakes and the wrongs we’ve committed, and just how much forgiveness mattered to us then. To remember how much we’ve learned from past folly and changed accordingly.” She regarded her husband appraisingly, her head tilting slightly as she did so. “Surely, even you have experienced something similar.”

Letting out a sigh of her own, the princess smoothed out her skirts for a contemplative moment before returning to the topic at hand. “You already know what I wish of you.” Her words were plain, for there was no point in broaching the topic in a roundabout way. “I ask that you spare his life, milord, and should you ask a price, I will pay it to the best of my ability,” she added, meeting his eyes solemnly.

While Ser Laenor had not acted on her orders, it did not change the fact that he was her sworn knight; in many ways he was her responsibility, and as his liege it was only right for her to seek his well-being. “I understand that he did something both reckless and foolish,” Aeranys continued levelly, “but if you allow him his life, I will ensure that he will not be present to make another offense.” Contrary to what Ser Laenor might have believed, it was not a fate worse than death. He would never see it her way, but she was not using the measure as a cruel punishment-. In fact, it was perhaps the only thing left she could do for the knight now--send him away to a place where he could not throw his life away for such a pithy thing as her honor.
Title: Re: The Golden Sun and the Silver Moon [m]
Post by: Reigning King on April 19, 2020, 01:01:44 AM

Prince Mors Nymeros Martell sat in the comfortable plush chair within his chambers in extended silence.  The quiet between them lasted longer than usual as he fidgeted with the jeweled rings upon his fingers, foot bouncing at the end of his twitching ankle, one leg crossed over the other.  He watched after the woman before him, his wife, considering her words with great care.  This was what he had asked of her; to teach him how to be good.  Though she seemed reluctant and required encouragement, the lesson had finally begun.  Mors was ever the eager student and took heed of her carefully chosen words.  Naturally, while he tried his best to understand, he failed to thoroughly comprehend what she meant.

“To remember our own mistakes and the wrongs we’ve committed, and just how much forgiveness mattered to us then…  Surely, even you have experienced something similar.”

Certainly, even the Golden Fang made mistakes.  Quite a few, in fact.  Yet, he couldn’t help but wonder; if she knew how hard he was on himself… if she could see the pain, trace the scars, know the stories… if she understood the severity of the laws by which her husband governed himself, would she have spoken differently?  There was much that Prince Mors did not grasp with regards to goodness and mercy, but if he could take the knowledge that Princess Aeranys bequeathed upon him to heart, perhaps he could try.  Understanding.  Remembrance.  In theory, such practices were foreign to the Dornish Prince.  He could try, however.  At the very least, he had to try. 

The fidgeting stopped in tandem with Mors’ silent contemplation.  When his eyes met those of his wife’s once again, a soothing serenity had washed over his features, scrubbing clean the exhaustion that he had been wearing so heavily.  In a calm, even voice he said, “very well.”  Uncrossing his legs Prince Mors leaned forward, coming to the edge of his seat and bringing his elbows to his knees, shortening the negative space between himself and his wife with measured intention. 

“I will spare Ser Laenor, if it pleases you.” As she began to utter her thanks for his most merciful decision, Prince Mors raised a silencing hand to Princess Aeranys. 

“My name.” He uttered cryptically.  At her inquisitive expression, he continued, explaining, “that is my price.  I am your husband, as Prince and Princess of Dorne I will be your only equal in this life, just as you will be mine.”  Inching forward a little bit more, he let playfulness touch upon his expression.  “The least you could do is call me by name.”  She seemed to accept these terms, but as she rose from where she was seated, Mors made no move to join her.  Instead, he uttered a polite, “goodnight Aeranys,” as she passed him. 

There was hesitation at first, as though she were tasting the name upon her tongue before she permitted the spell to pass her lips.  Finally, the words emerged from the quiet and he savoured them as her voice chimed, “goodnight Mors,” and they echoed within him like so many bells. 


(https://media.giphy.com/media/jQDJ83mt8DXo7c2WpR/giphy.gif)

(https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/7lWl1TsyxynR4M33OIkexTbR0UCnA5haZhmT0AgHG0wnBAOtRLwqYJK8I0Zo9iaF4HTmstA3AnPIUzJ8PPa16T0qobrEfwxZVlCen7UKICjyOMhIEEijte0u_bvzKrlAvBxSpzJc)

Prince Mors stood over a map of Westeros spread out upon the surface of a large table within the Grand Library.  Prince Doran sat with his son at that very table, reviewing the plans of the coming battle with the young man who would lead his forces.  The Ruling Prince of Dorne had spent many long hours with his eldest born child, repeating lessons and forcing the boy to memorize choice strategies.  He had a mind for combat, moving with his battleaxe like a conductor leading a symphony.  That much he had come by naturally.  Even as a child he had been ruled by instinct and action, never trusting his emotions not to betray him.  The lessons in planning and scheme had not come easily, but with time they had come just the same.  Now, even green and untested, he was something to be both feared and revered.  Once he was upon the plains of war, properly blooded and inevitably victorious, he would become something else entirely; something of legend. 

“How do you know they will surrender to you?” Prince Doran asked, moving the marble-carved piece of Sun and Spear from the fortress of Storms’ End.  As Mors had been explaining the machinations of his battle plan, he had prematurely positioned himself as though he had already claimed the ruling seat of the Stormlands. 

“Because senseless fear is evil, but fear with purpose is politics.” Mors replied easily. 

Prince Doran beamed up at his son, brown eyes swimming with the warmth of the morning rays that poured from the windows.  “It is good to see that some of my lessons stick.”

“They all do.” Mors corrected, moving the piece back to where he had initially placed it.  “You just don’t notice when I’m listening.”

“I notice everything, my son.” Prince Doran corrected in return.  Before the two men could spit further morsels of quick wit across the table to one another, they were interrupted by a knock at the door.  Both men turned to see the double doors open up and Princess Aeranys step inside, escorted in typical courtly fashion by Ser Devran.  She curtseyed politely to both men as she entered the vastness of the Grand Library, stepping towards the table as her husband beckoned her forward. 

“To what do we owe this pleasure?” Prince Mors asked his wife pleasantly.  Her face twisted in surprise at his words.  It was obvious that she had assumed her husband to have been the one who summoned her. 

“I thought Princess Aeranys may have some useful insight to share.” Prince Doran said.  “Surely, you must know your brother well.” Gesturing to the map before him he looked expectantly at the girl he had chosen to assist his son rule their Realm.  “What do you think he would do.”

While certainly, it would be beneficial to have an idea of Prince Rhaegar Targaryen’s plans to put down this rebellion, that was not the only reason that the little sister to the man responsible for this war had been brought before the Prince of Dorne.  He was testing her.  As eagerly and earnestly as Prince Doran watched the girl before him, Prince Mors’ expression was even more so intent.  Show him, his golden eyes pleaded silently.  Be useful…
Title: Re: The Golden Sun and the Silver Moon [m]
Post by: asterin on April 21, 2020, 01:52:51 PM
He stood the moment the door creaked open. He’d recognized the voice speaking to the guard outside, he’d recognized it instantly. He had spent another sleepless night drowning in despair and folly, and his ocean eyes were wild and frantic as the slender figure stepped through. “Princess Aeranys,” he blurted out, far too desperate to sound proper. “Milady, I beg you--”

“Please,” she cut him off calmly, her voice barely louder than a whisper, and he stumbled back into silence. The single ounce of solace he could take was that there was no anger, no fire or ice or anything calamitous in her gaze. She was as she had always been, gracious and kind, but even his brief spark of relief was overtaken up by a slow, creeping dread--for as he watched her smile kindly at him, he couldn’t help but feel that this was farewell. “I would ask a favor of you,” she started again, her words still measured and courteous as she extended a carefully packaged parcel towards the knight. “Would you take this to my mother? You are to hand it directly to her, and no one else.”

Her eyes were only sympathetic as he belatedly grasped the bundle he was offered, his throat moving harshly as he swallowed with difficulty. No words would come.

“And this is for you, Ser Laenor.” He blinked at the sight of the smaller parcel she was holding out to him. Manners dictated that he should accept it at once, but everything else within him strained to refuse. Taking it would mean giving into what she had decided. “Please open it when you have departed from Sunspear. I will be attending to duties in another part of Dorne, so I will not be present for your departure.”


(https://66.media.tumblr.com/3e3f5cd89554ce2502b519c3a727924f/tumblr_inline_o3yx8bbjNA1tzl7m4_250.gifv)

“Princess, how could I leave you here, all alone?” he spoke up in a last-ditch attempt, unafraid to beg when it came to his lady liege. “Please…”

“You can, and you will,” Princess Aeranys rebuked, her expression growing solemn. “You must.” She still held the package out to him, the insistence in her eyes unwavering. Defeated, he reluctantly took the parcel into his hand. “Thank you for your loyal service until now,” she murmured as he regarded what he had received. It was no heavier than a thin stack of parchment might be, and yet they weighed him down into murkier depths. There was a stretch of silence before she spoke again, and this time there was something that sounded like a plea in her quiet voice--enough for him to rouse himself momentarily from his wallowing. “Will you look after her for me? Be there in my stead?”

It took him only a moment to realize that she was speaking of her mother. “I swear it,” he told her at once, his only hand going to his heart. “I will guard her like I would my own mother, milady. I won’t fail you in this.”

She smiled then, dawn breaking out over the sea that embraced his childhood home. He’d seen her smile before--the lonely smiles, the bitter ones, the polite ones, the surprised ones, even the rare joyous ones. Throughout the years, he’d tucked each and every one carefully away into his memory like precious secrets, and yet, watching this smile blossom across her lovely face, all at once he couldn’t help but wonder if he had ever really seen her smile until this moment. He’d thought he’d known her so well, his beloved princess, and yet perhaps it was just as she had told him the night prior. Perhaps he had never known her at all. “Thank you,” the princess told him, though to him her grateful words seemed almost redundant in the afterglow of her smile. Still, he clung to the simple sentiment like a drowning man, for he knew the moment had come.

“Farewell, Ser Laenor.”

And then just like that his princess was gone, leaving behind only the memory of her presence and the things she had entrusted to him. He clutched the parcels close to his chest and closed his eyes, attempting to recall the smile she had favored him with only moments ago so that it might remedy the ache in his heart. He tried, then once again, and another time, but no matter how hard he strained to reconstruct it, his imagination failed him each and every time, bringing forth nothing but hollowness.



***************



When she had been summoned to join her husband in the Grand Library, she had at first thought nothing much of it. It was easy to presume that she was due for another session with her stern but attentive tutor, but once she had stepped into the library, she had spotted the Ruling Prince of Dorne also present. Immediately, her thoughts had taken a grim turn, causing herself to brace herself for some sort of ill tidings.

Despite having prepared herself to hear the worst news, apparently it did not make her immune to surprise as it became clear that it hadn’t been the younger Martell prince who had required her presence but the elder. Doubly surprising was the task he posed to her, beckoning towards the map spread out on the table before them.

“Surely, you must know your brother well. What do you think he would do?” Doran Martell inquired, the light in his warm brown eyes far too intent to be mere curiosity. Obediently, she came to stand between them, pushing aside the anxiety stirring in her gut to study the map. This was a test--that much she could’ve guessed at on her own--but the way her husband looked at her, his golden gaze intense as the Dornish sun, why, it made it nothing short of certain.

The first thing she did, lips pursed, was to pluck the marble piece claiming victory over Storm’s End from its triumph. She did not place it anywhere else, however, keeping the miniature carving of the Sun and Spear in her delicate fingers. It was a familiar sensation to her, cradling a piece that was not so unlike a cyvasse piece in her hand as she scanned the field. As children, her brothers had always teased her about how quickly she would play her turn, choosing a strategy or tossing it aside with reckless abandon. She’d been the youngest of the trio, and the most impulsive to boot. As Aeranys grew more accustomed to the game, the young princess had become more thoughtful, though she had never lost her relentless pace. However, now it seemed that even that had left her--despite how soon she had acted, for what seemed like an eternity, she didn’t say or do a thing, as if she herself had turned to marble.

When the young woman finally spoke, it was to deliver words that seemingly admitted defeat to her father-in-law. “I am afraid that I am unfit for this task, milord,” she began, her gaze lowered regretfully. “I too, believed that I knew my brother well, and yet, the brother I knew would have never started this war.”

Just as the air seemed to curdle with heavy disappointment, however, Aeranys lifted her head and continued quietly, turning to the map once more. “But, if I was my brother,” she spoke levelly, placing the marble piece back onto the map and sliding the pieces into a new position, farther out from Storm’s End. “The moment I crossed into the Stormlands, I would focus on the villages.” Placing the large marble piece onto the map at last, she traced the lines of the map, tapping at the marks and symbols that drew out the landscape and the smaller groups of villages and towns.

“The smallfolk too often bear the brunt of hardship when war breaks out,” she began to explain the line of her reasoning. “The Stormlands are fertile enough, but it can’t compare to Highgarden, and the wet climate makes it difficult to stockpile grain--unlike Dorne,” Aeranys added, her eyes flicking briefly to the young Dornish prince in a knowing manner before continuing to address the older man. 

“They will be fine for a time, but not if the war stretches longer. The lords will be the last to starve, but the common people will be the first. So I would show them goodwill beyond what they could expect: their villages would go untouched, fields untorched, their loved ones unharmed.” Though her voice remained calm and composed, her lilac eyes glowed like embers ready to flare into flame as she spoke of a strategy in open rebellion to her father’s cruel legacy. “I would offer them clemency on behalf of the crown, and promise that they will not be judged by the actions of their lords, but by their own actions. Not only that, but those who surrender will also be provided with protection and grain, rationed from the surplus of the granaries in the Crownlands and Dorne.”

She didn’t have to have either of the men to speak up in order to know that it was a strategy far too idealistic to be used. Indeed, perhaps some would be swayed by such pretty words, but many others would not. Why would they, if they believed them to be the enemy? Why would they, if their loyalty was to those they served? However, Aeranys was not quite done.

“Most importantly, I would have each key village choose a person that can be trusted amongst them, to act as witnesses in their stead.” Her gaze was now resting firmly on the map in front of her, her fingers moving small pieces to represent people being drawn out from the respective regions to join the larger main piece. “Once I have them in my company, I would call for a parley with those at Storm’s End to discuss terms of surrender with these witnesses present.” The fair-haired princess moved the pieces to the spot just outside Storm’s End, completely absorbed by her strategy; the familiar relentless pace had now returned to her along with the intense focus she often felt at the height of a cyvasse match. “If the Stormlords surrender to my conditions in order to protect their people, as lords rightfully ought to, then all’s well that ends well. But should they refuse, even in the face of generous conditions, even at the cost of their own people, their betrayal will not go unheard by them.”

No matter how fierce the soldier, they couldn't fight on an empty stomach--no matter how rich the lord, they couldn’t buy food if no one would plow the land. Nobility, as Aeranys had often observed, forgot this fact too easily when caught up in hubris. “They can have their own people turn on them, be starved out, or surrender peacefully,” she uttered quietly, more to herself than to the audience she had nearly forgotten about. Silently, she once more slid the sun and spear piece onto the place she had snatched it from, which seemed to break the spell she was under. Immediately, she leant back from the map as she turned to the Ruling Prince of Dorne, her gaze dropping in the demure fashion her mother had taught her. “But I know very little of battles and war, milords,” she added politely, “I imagine my brother would be much more useful in this endeavor.”


Title: Re: The Golden Sun and the Silver Moon [m]
Post by: Reigning King on May 29, 2020, 12:24:10 PM

Prince Doran sat across from Princess Aeranys in silence for a time before his gaze slid over to his son, something turning up the corners of his mouth.  “Mors,” he began in a playful tone.  “Are you smiling?”

By the time the Targaryen-born Princess followed the line of sight mirrored by the Prince of Dorne, Mors was looking away, tucking his feelings behind his mask where they belonged.  When his gaze once more met that of his wife, there was something shy swimming in his golden eyes.  He had not smiled on their wedding day, nor their wedding night.   But today, here in the Grand Library, as she spoke of diplomatic strategy; spoke like a leader, his lips had pulled back over his teeth and spread across his face like the sun rising over the horizon.  Though his father may have been the one to observe the rarity, it’s shadow lingered upon his face, belonging to his wife alone. 

“And where would you start?” Prince Mors asked.  As he spoke he stepped forward, leaning against the table with one hand and reaching for the carved Martell piece upon the map with the other.  Turning to the young woman at his shoulder he took her hand in his and placed the piece within her grasp, curling her fingers around it’s curve.  As their eyes met from across their entangled fingers, Prince Doran broke the silence. 

“Well, I see my counsel is no longer needed.” The aging man said as he looked to the man at his side.  “Aero,” he beckoned.  At once the lumbering man, decorated as such yet never formally Knighted, stepped forward and offered the Prince of Dorne his arm as he began guiding his liege to standing. 

“Father, if it pleases you…” Mors began, but his father was waving a silencing hand as he took his cane into his knotted grip. 

“I need to rest.” Prince Doran said, explaining away his quick flight from the Grand Library.  The withered Ruling Prince bid polite farewells to his firstborn son and new daughter as he crossed the Library to the large doors that would take him into the hallways beyond. 

“Where were we?” Came Princess Aeranys’ soft voice, fluttering through the doors as they swung closed. 

“You were just about to tell me your brilliant plan, Aeranys.” Mors encouraged. 

Aero Hotah meandered down the hall at a leisurely pace, keeping step with the man who limped along beside him.  Prince Doran was gentle, but he had always been proud.  His chosen Guard knew to only help him along when he stumbled.  These days, it didn’t take too many steps along the stone-walled corridor before he did just that.  Reaching out to catch himself, he found Aero’s strong arm.  He muttered quiet thanks as he always did, but still there was shame lurking behind his mask of complacency. 

“It seems Mors is rather taken with his new wife.” The Captain of the Dornish Prince’s personal Guard offered, quick distraction a transparent though well-meaning act of charity.

“In time, perhaps.” Prince Doran answered after catching his breath.  “My son is not an easy man to love.”

“Nor are you.” Aero said in return before adding, “if it’s not too bold of me to say, my Prince.”

“If it were you wouldn’t have said it.” The Ruling Prince of Dorne pointed out. 

“I suppose you aren’t wrong.” The decorated guard observed. 

“Nor are you.” Prince Doran replied, a gentle smile on his tired lips.

(https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/7lWl1TsyxynR4M33OIkexTbR0UCnA5haZhmT0AgHG0wnBAOtRLwqYJK8I0Zo9iaF4HTmstA3AnPIUzJ8PPa16T0qobrEfwxZVlCen7UKICjyOMhIEEijte0u_bvzKrlAvBxSpzJc)

The morning sun came upon the Palace of Sunspear too quickly.  The Martell family gathered at the docks and soldiers crossed the wooden planks to board the ships that would depart for war.  Princess Aeranys stood pleasant and patient amongst the rest, her enigma of a husband curiously absent from her side.  The Red Viper bid his farewells to his daughters, his Paramour and his siblings.  He did not board the waiting ship but instead found his place amongst the Manwoody soldiers, who lingered at the edge of the docks.  He barked orders to the men and women who wore the gold and black of their liege House.  They were waiting for their commander, for Prince Mors, the Golden Fang. 
He arrived belatedly, headed down the docks at a leisurely pace with Natari of House Toyne at his side.  They appeared to be in the midst of a serious conversation, but those observing the interaction only caught the final pieces at the tail-end of their dialogue. 

“You have my word…” Dame Natari said.  Prince Mors pulled her in for a quick, tight embrace before finding her brown eyes once more and placing a gentle hand upon the side of her handsome face. 

“Thank you,” he uttered quietly.

He started with his cousins, crouching low to pull all three girls into a shared huddle, whispering quiet instructions to them in hushed tones before pulling away and bequeathing each with a final farewell.  He reminded brave and bold Obara to be smart.  He told clever and cunning Nymeria to be kind.  Each he left with a kiss upon the forehead.  When he lowered himself onto one knee before the blond-haired Tyene, he reached within his tuncis and produced the large brass key that hung around his neck.  Lifting it over his head he set the heavy chain into his cousin’s small hand.  Her round, blue gaze flicked briefly to Princess Aeranys before focusing once more on her eldest cousin. 

“When?” She asked cryptically. 

“When the time is right.” Mors answered.

“How will I know?” She pressed. 

“You’ll know.” He assured her.  With that, little Tyene Sand nodded her blond head dutifully and brought the chain over her head, letting the key at its end rest against her chest like it did her cousin’s.  As she did so, Mors left her with a kiss on the forehead just as he had for her sisters. 

Righting himself once more, Prince Mors Martell turned to face his father and aunt who stood side by side with proud smiles upon their similarly featured faces.  As he parted his lips to offer them kind words of leave, Arianne pushed her way past them and threw herself into her brother’s arms.  He caught her and held her tight against her chest, letting a fleeting moment of feeling pass unseen from within the tangle of her raven curls.  When finally she loosened her grip around his neck for long enough to meet his gaze once more, she wore a stern expression on her pretty face.  By contrast, Mors’ expression was light and brimming with love.  Arianne and Mors had always been close.  From the moment she was born the only face he cared to see was hers.  From the day he had left for Starfall the only news he cared to hear was how his little sister fared growing too quickly into womanhood.  He loved her more than he did his brothers, his cousins, even his father. 

“Come back to me.” Arianne demanded pointedly. 

“I’ll do my best.” Mors answered teasingly. 

“Promise me!  Promise you’ll come back.” She insisted. 

“I already told you,” Prince Mors reminded his little sister as he returned her feet to the wooden planks beneath them and brushed her curls from her hair.  “I’ll never leave you alone in this world.” He assured her, patient in spite of the way that she clung to him like a child.  “I promise.”

The Golden Fang kissed his brothers, wiping away Trystane’s tears, and gave parting words to his father and Aunt Elia before finally coming to his wife’s side.  Offering her his arm they started not towards the flag ships that grew full with soldiers, but instead the steps that would carry them to the lower docks.  They descended the steps past the stone dam that made up the river lock, the vein flowing from the sea carrying small long boats down a narrow channel that led through a small, hidden opening within the rocky coastline.  If you did not know where to look, you would not be able to find it. 

Mors gave a nod to his uncle, spurring the Red Viper into action.  “Load the boats!” He called as he started down the length of the precariously positioned planks. 

“Wait here.” The Dornish Prince instructed his bride, pulling his arm from where her hand was wrapped around it and moving to a cluster of individuals who differed from the rest.  They donned not armour, but instead lightweight tunics and patchwork breeches rolled up to the knee, most without shoes but instead bare feet.  Their belts were not equipped with weapons, but instead rope and various hooks.  Hands held not sword or spear, but instead push poles and oars.  Some were paler, while others had the leathery-weather-worn skin of a sea-faring nature.  Though they all had the Dornish look, there was something distinctly different about their broad, flat features.  If that wasn’t enough, when the Golden Fang approached them, he spoke to them in a language that was thought long lost to the Known World.  They exchanged only a few passing words before he beckoned his bride forth.

“Aeranys, this is Boro and Ralla, of the Rhoynar.  They keep the Dornish Causeway.”  The man and woman who stood before Dorne’s newest daughter were the leaders of their particular faction of Dornish ethnicity.  They kept the history and tradition of their people alive, a secret Lord and Lady each in their own right.  “This is my wife, Princess Aeranys Martell.” He offered, gesturing to the woman at his side in polite introduction.  The pair each placed their fist over their heart and thumped twice, a gesture akin to a bow by Westerosi standards.

“Your chariot awaits, nephew!” Prince Oberyn called, directing the attention of the newly wedded pair to a long boat more luxurious than the others, fixed with a humble cabin.  Like the others, this vessel had no sails, for where they ventured, there would be no wind to carry them forth. 

“Come,” Prince Mors said, taking his wife’s hand and guiding her along the narrow planks to the shallow boat that would carry them beneath Dorne to the Tower of Joy; to Rhaegar Targaryen. 


(https://media.giphy.com/media/UtiF990muJIMTGUfb5/giphy.gif)
Title: Re: The Golden Sun and the Silver Moon [m]
Post by: asterin on June 03, 2020, 02:22:41 PM
(https://66.media.tumblr.com/87c6eab9f3cd0ddfe8c379b06286f311/36ee6b84ff76f1d8-b4/s540x810/5af201ad6925987d4ddedc722cdca1170b19e4e7.gifv)


The afternoon sun filtered through the windows, filling the small room with a welcome glow. It illuminated the parchment she diligently scribbled onto, outlining a number of books that would pertain to the subjects her husband had thought important. Such a tome was already in her hand, serving as a makeshift desk in a room which did not have one. There was a vanity in the other corner, which might have been a fair choice as a desk, if it were not covered with beautiful jars of oils and pigment, kept neat and free of any dust; though it had been some time since Lady Mellario had left Dorne, her chambers looked as if she had only just stepped out. Even though the rooms had been given to her for the time being, it could only be assumed that it was a temporary provision.

Still, she liked the back room within the chambers, and looking about, it would seem that Lady Mellario had felt similarly--it was not particularly grand, but it was elegantly decorated with a touch that was different, even from the Dornish furnishings. Lady Mellario had also been a bride who had hailed from far-off lands, from a place even farther than where Aeranys had come from. Unlike Aeranys, however, it was known that the foreign lady and the Prince of Dorne had married for love, not for politics--and yet, their marriage had not lasted. It was ironic, then, that her own parents who had married out of nothing but duty, were still shackled tightly together. Lady Mellario had left, but the young woman knew that her mother, no matter how unhappy, would not even think of such a thing, even if she were handed the key. She was a dutiful queen above all else, after all.

Reining in her wandering thoughts once more, the princess turned back to her list. What she really ought to have been doing was picking which gowns she would like to take upon their rapidly approaching excursion, but Aeranys failed to find the task appealing. Instead, she wondered how many books she might be able to take along with her, given that the sailing would be smooth enough for her to read. Of course, Aeranys knew that wardrobe was important, and the silent politics of colors and design weren’t to be thought trivial, but she was not going to be presented to a court or some stranger. It would be her brother she would see again, her brother, who had seen her in every form, from muddied trousers and sleepy-eyed nightgowns to the extravagant ceremonial dresses. What did it matter which colors she wore?

Her busy quill came to a sudden halt as she heard the sound of the main doors open in the other room. The sound of light footsteps could be heard--likely servants, here to start packing her things for the trip. Aeranys felt a prick of regret. Perhaps she really should have chosen her gowns first; it certainly would have made things easier for them. She hurried to rise from the chair she had placed beside the wide windows, but just as she placed the book and parchment down, something brought her to a stop.

“...don’t understand why we have to change the sheets today. She’ll be gone tomorrow, what’s the use?”

“You know how it is. Only the best for the new princess of Dorne.”

They were chambermaids, she realized, here to tidy. For a moment she stood there, unsure what to do. Announcing her presence at this point would be unfortunate, but…

“So it seems. Isn’t that just strange?” the first girl continued, oblivious to the fair-haired princess’ presence in the back room.

“I know. On their wedding day they looked as stiff as corpses in the grave, and now the rumor is that Prince Mors makes every allowance for her, even in the council room,” the other remarked, distaste running through her pretty voice.

It was clear now that there wouldn’t be any way out of this situation. Aeranys slowly lowered herself back into her seat, drawing the tome and parchment back onto her knees. If they were only here for the sheets, then hopefully they would not have any reason to venture back towards where she was. Knowing that a quill would make noise, she cautiously opened the thick book to the page she had left off on. The princess was no stranger to gossip, nor did she have the desire to burst in on the girls and punish them for doing so. If every little insult and word of gossip were to be heeded, there wouldn’t be a moment in her day to actually tend to the important things. Still, as she tried to focus on the text, their voices crept through the silken curtains along with the breeze, dripping into her ear.

“As I said, strange. But maybe that isn’t so strange, if you take the other rumor into account.”

“What? What rumor?” the voice asked eagerly, hungry for a scrap of scandal.

“You haven’t heard, Tamira?” The first girl lowered her voice into a conspiratorial whisper. “They say she’s a sorceress. She practices blood magic,”

“No...that bland little thing?” Tamira remarked in gleeful disbelief, and Aeranys also found herself mystified. Blood magic? Where in the world had that come from?

“It’s true, I heard it from Nyra!” the other defended, her words louder now. “She says that she has cuts on her arms. In fact, I’ve heard she keeps a dagger with a dragon on the hilt on her person at all times. Just a prick and a murmured spell, and the deed is done.”

“No…” her companion echoed once more. “You don’t think…?” Her question trailed off, laden with suggestion. The other maiden caught on immediately. 

“Exactly. The fear is that she’s bewitched him into doing her bidding. We’re heading into this meaningless war for the Targaryens, after all. You better watch your paramour, Tamira. Who knows who she’ll bewitch when the prince is off to war?”

“Actually, you know what, it makes sense. Haven’t you heard about that knight of hers?” Tamira began, and the princess felt her heart twist. Closing her eyes, she braced herself for what would come next, but before anything malicious could be spewed forth, their words suddenly erupted into frightened screams. Eyes wide, Aeranys bolted up from her chair, but it seemed that something else had caught their attention.

“Cursed creature!” one of them cried spitefully, though she did not sound harmed.

“Dalia, do you think she’s listening through that...thing?” Tamira spoke, her voice thin with creeping fear.

“Shh!” her friend hissed, sharply shushing the other into silence. “Come on, I don’t want to stay here with that,” Dalia urged, and with a flurry of rustling cloth and hurried footsteps, the girls left the chambers with a resounding slam of the doors.

Aeranys let out a breath she hadn’t been aware she’d been holding. Carefully, she picked her way back out to the main chamber. There, sitting on the ledge of the open window, was the great black bird, the hontes valdrizes. It cooed at the sight of her and the young woman found herself smiling, approaching the fearsome creature. Reaching out, she gently stroked the glossy feathers about its head and neck as if it were a harmless chick. “Thank you,” she murmured quietly. It still seemed silly to think it, but the bird had the most uncanny timing, appearing when she felt in need of a friend; then again, perhaps it was to be expected; that had been what she had proposed to the creature.

If that was the case, it wouldn’t do to keep thinking of it as merely ‘the bird’ in her mind, she thought. For a moment she studied him, her lips pursed in thought. A dragon bird, black and red and fierce. She shook her head with a wry smile, and the bird watched her closely, a curious spark in those pale eyes. Of course. Had there ever been a name more fitting? “Balerion,” she offered, letting the name roll off of her tongue syllable by syllable. “How does that sound to you? Balerion?” When the vulture nudged its head against her palm contentedly and let out another soft noise, the small smile on her face grew into one of delight--rumors forgotten, at least for the moment.



++++++++++++++++++++



She watched her husband say farewell to his family, the family he would be leaving behind as he went off to war--her brother’s war. He did not forget to give a special goodbye to any of the little ones flocking about him--his little brothers, his young cousins. The most touching farewell to those in attendance, however, would be his goodbye with his only sister as she clung to him fiercely. She did not yet know what it was like to send a brother off to war. Rhaegar had been kept away from the conflict with the Darklyns, and he had been far from her side by the time men came calling for his head; as for Daeron--he had never been well enough to become a soldier. Still, she knew what it was like to fear for the life of a brother, and furthermore, she knew what it was like to be helpless to keep death at bay. She could only hope that Arianne would not have to come to understand what that felt like.

Farewells soon came to an end and the men promptly began to prepare for departure. When the Dornish prince came to her side and led her away, however, it was not towards the ship she had assumed they would be boarding. Instead, she was taken down a path she had not yet seen, small and not at all resembling a major dock belonging to Sunspear. The people Prince Mors Martell went to speak with also did not look like the sailors above, both in attire and some way that Aeranys could not quite place but felt all the same. With pale eyes she watched them intently, straining to make out the words they exchanged, but what sounds she did manage to overhear, she couldn’t comprehend. The conversation was a brief one, however, and soon she was called forth for a proper introduction.

“Aeranys, this is Boro and Ralla, of the Rhoynar. They keep the Dornish Causeway,” he told her as she took in the sight of the pair before her. Though they weren’t decked out in jewels or gold or lavish finery, the way they carried themselves spoke to their importance. Turning to them, the dark haired prince continued the introduction. “This is my wife, Princess Aeranys Martell.”

Martell. Aeranys Martell. The unfamiliar ring of the name caused her to blink, but her reaction was tucked away swiftly as the man and woman greeted her. The princess sank into a greeting of her own, a demure curtsy. “It is an honor to meet you,” she uttered graciously, but the time for pleasantries was over once Oberyn Martell called to them, signaling that they were ready to leave. Following his gesturing hand, Aeranys spotted the curious vessel, a boat with no sails. Silently puzzling over the mystery of what was happening, she stepped down the precarious planks with her husband’s assistance.

Though there was a cabin in the middle of the longboat, no one tried to usher her away as they pushed off from the dock. Aeranys stood in quiet observation as they began their journey--not into the open ocean water, but into the narrow crevice that was before them. As the boat ventured further, however, her studious gaze turned to awe. Books forgotten, she watched the strange scenery as they passed by--it was not a mere tunnel they were traversing through. Despite the entrance having been so insignificant and narrow, once they were inside it steadily widened out until it was cavernous. It stretched on and on, and it was not a lifeless hall of stone. On the far side, she could see structures carved into the rock--buildings, villages, people, lit by glowing lanterns.

When she finally turned to seek out the prince, her expression was once of comprehension. “Is this why the members of the council were so against me seeing my brother?” she asked him, even though the answer was already plain to her. Aeranys knew Dorne. Not in the way the Dornish did, of course, and her knowledge could not hold a candle to what Mors Martell knew--but even without the tutoring she’d had as a child, she had done her utmost to etch the details of the map of the region into her mind under the eye of her newfound tutor. No map, no text about Dorne she had consumed so far had mentioned something like this.

It was a secret.

Even if it had been nothing but a dusty tunnel of rock, the usefulness of such a route was not difficult to understand. Like the many secret passageways in the Red Keep, with some resourcefulness, it could prove to be a powerful tool, used for escape, stealth, or even infiltration. It was only to be expected that the Dornish nobles would have wanted to keep her in the dark. Despite this, the Martell prince had tried to inform her of it practically from the start. No, it wasn’t just that. In his own way, he had tried to give her the reins to power and authority at each turn, something she had struggled to recognize.

“Thank you,” she started, the simple words uttered as she held his gaze. Then, as if recalling his request, there was a brief pause before she added, “Mors.” It was still not an easy feat for the princess, and her eyes drifted from his and out to the dark waters around them. After a moment of silent contemplation, she spoke again. “I respect and love my mother more than anyone in the world,” she told him quietly, a faraway look on her visage. “She taught me everything she knew--how to be a wife, how to survive being one.” If there was a hint of wryness or bitterness at the sentiment, it was gone when she turned to catch his eye once more. “But you don’t want a wife. Or at least, not a subservient one,” Aeranys remarked of him, her brows lifting ever-so-slightly.

Turning completely and squaring herself to her husband, she found the words she wanted to say. “I can’t go back to being the girl I used to be any more than I can turn back the flow of time,” she said, her voice frank. “It can’t be done. But,” Aeranys paused for a breath, the eyes probing his expression glinting like silver in the gloom. “If it is an equal you desire, someone to help you protect the lives that you bear on your shoulders--then I will try,” she declared, the ring of a promise in her echoed words.

“At the very least, I will try.”
Title: Re: The Golden Sun and the Silver Moon [m]
Post by: Reigning King on June 05, 2020, 01:38:20 PM
Mors stood next to his wife on the deck of their humble longboat, watching her as she watched the scenery that unfolded around her.  Lanterns illuminated the quarters of those who had chosen to live secret and safe within the shadows of the Dornish Causeway.  Each tiny crevice, each intricate carving, each smiling face captured her attention as she surveyed the horizon cut from stone before them.  With his hands clasped neatly behind his back he looked on at his wife, admiring her from afar as she took in the wonder to which Mors himself had played witness many times. 

“Is this why the members of the council were so against me seeing my brother?” she asked.

“Yes.” He answered easily.  Princess Aeranys seemed to consider this for a moment before turning to her husband once more. 

“Thank you… Mors,” at the sound of his name falling from her hesitant lips, something warm drifted over his serious features and settled into his bones, his usual mask of calm contentment softening into something more sincere.  He did not fill the silence with words, but instead took a step closer to her, looking out at the passing stone work when she did. 

“I respect and love my mother more than anyone in the world,” she continued on and Mors uttered not a single word for fear of breaking the spell.  “She taught me everything she knew--how to be a wife, how to survive being one.  But you don’t want a wife. Or at least, not a subservient one.”  When she turned to him, her brows lifted in compliment to her meaningful gaze, she found him looking back at her wearing a similar expression.  Words remaining unspoken, Mors only tilted his head to the side in silent encouragement.  When she squared herself fully, facing him directly, he matched her steps to do the same. 

“I can’t go back to being the girl I used to be… but, if it is an equal you desire, someone to help you protect the lives that you bear on your shoulders--then I will try,” she spoke the words as though they were a solemn vow.  “At the very least, I will try.”

“As you say.”  As he uttered the words, he reached out to take her hands within his own.  Though they had entered their marriage in disagreement and icy tension, there was something blooming between them now that hadn’t been there before.  Princess Aeranys would know better than anyone, that there were worse things a husband could demand of his wife than mutual respect.  It could either be the enduring foundation of their budding relationship, or it could be the nourishing soil from which something more magnificent might yet grow.  Only time would tell. 

“You’re right.” Prince Mors told her after a moment, looking down at their hands as he spoke.  “I never wanted a wife, at least not in the traditional sense.”  As the pad of his thumb stroked the back of her pale hand he looked up, once more permitting his strangely coloured eyes to collide with hers.  “I don’t want to rule alone.  I’m not even so sure that I want to rule at all.  What I want is someone to walk with me through this life; not behind me, but beside me.”

“You say that the girl I once knew is gone, but I can still see her.  The dragon is within you, hiding behind lace and silk.”  He squeezed her hands a little tighter, pulling her closer to him.  “I hope one day, I get to meet her.  I hope one day, I can be worthy of her love.”  Bowing forward, he brought his lips to her hands, pressing a kiss against the cool, smooth skin that lay within his grasp. 

Their marriage would not be like the sort written in the songs.  Perhaps, if they were willing to try, it might be something even greater.  Like the dragons of Old Valyria or the Ten Thousand Ships of Ny Sar, their story would not be a song, but instead legend.   

(https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/7lWl1TsyxynR4M33OIkexTbR0UCnA5haZhmT0AgHG0wnBAOtRLwqYJK8I0Zo9iaF4HTmstA3AnPIUzJ8PPa16T0qobrEfwxZVlCen7UKICjyOMhIEEijte0u_bvzKrlAvBxSpzJc)

It was hard to separate the days from the nights within the caverns of the Dornish Causeway.  Only the people of the Rhoynar who lived within its walls, handing them fruits and sweet meats from the waters edge along their journey, provided any indication of the passing of time.  It was of a late hour when Prince Mors found himself alone on the deck of the longboat.  They had no oars upon their humble vessel but instead were tethered to the boats ahead who rowed rhythmically to the beat of a steady drum.   

He found a comfortable place in the shallowest part of the boat and sat himself upon her worn planks.  As the Golden Fang crossed his legs beneath him he let one arm dangle over the edge of the chariot that carried them through the Causeway, his fingertips dipped in the waters of the river, trailing along the side of the longboat.  With his other hand, he touched upon the large fang that sat beneath his tunics on a leather strap against his chest.  Closing his eyes he listened to the pounding drums, keeping the pace of the men and women before them and behind them.  It was hard to say for how long Prince Mors sat in silence before at long last he felt something brush against his fingers beneath the surface of the water.

“There you are,” he whispered into the darkness.  “I could feel you following me.”  Something moved deep within the river of the Dornish Causeway.  Powerful muscle and rippling sinew twitched beneath the scales that slipped smoothly across his delicate touch. 

“You should go back,” he whispered to the black waters that reflected only the sparsely placed, dimly lit lanterns.  “Tyene will be wondering where you are…”

Creak…

Turning at the sound, Prince Mors spotted his wife in the gloom of the low-light.  She looked as though she expected him to grow cross, catching her creeping up as he whispered to himself in the loneliness of the evening hours.  Instead he uncurled his fingers from the fastened fang around his neck and offered his hand to her.  As he did, he pulled his other hand from the water, dragging wet fingers through his close-cropped, raven locks.   

“Come here, Aeranys.”  He beckoned. 

His wife came to him when she was called, gathering her skirts beneath her as she sat upon the deck beside him, taking his hand.  As he intertwined his fingers with hers he told her, “you’re just in time.” Leaning back, he stretched his legs out and let her fall beside him so that they both lay upon their backs.  “It’ll be any minute now.” He said softly as they watched the dark stone above them pass overhead. 

(https://media.giphy.com/media/3ohhwNqFMnb7wZgNnq/giphy.gif)

They waited in silence before at last the ceiling of the cave opened up into a shimmering sky filled with sparkling coloured stars.  They weren’t stars, of course, but rather gems.  The precious stones were a dazzling sight, gathered in clusters that resembled constellations.  He listened to the inhale of delight and the exhale of wonder from the woman at his side as they passed beneath the resplendency.  The corners of his mouth twitched as she squeezed his hand tighter, settling into stillness as she made herself comfortable to behold the majesty of Dorne’s best kept secret. 

“The Lannisters are known as the richest House in Westeros.  Their mines are filled with the gold that funds your father’s court.” Prince Mors explained to his wife as they lay side by side beneath sparkling reflection of the light of the lanterns.  “No one knows about this place except for the people of Dorne.  The Rhoynish guard our secret and protect our wealth.  In exchange we keep their culture, their language, their traditions…”

If the moment they had shared in the Grand Library marked the true beginning of their connection as man and wife, then this moment now was the wedding night they should have been bestowed by destiny.  They lay together, enjoying their shared tranquility for a time before Mors broke the silence once more saying, “I wouldn’t have let them, you know.”

“Keep you from seeing your brother, that is.” He added when she turned her head to the side to face him, the silent inquiry heavy between them.  “Do you think he will approve of me?” He asked her playfully.  “I’m not so sure that I would if I were in his position.”

“I suppose I’ll just have to try to win him over...”

Title: Re: The Golden Sun and the Silver Moon [m]
Post by: asterin on June 07, 2020, 08:55:31 PM
“Do you think he will approve of me?” the Dornish Prince remarked of her brother, something teasing in the curve of his lips. “I’m not so sure that I would if I were in his position.” Unable to give an answer, Aeranys could only utter a quiet laugh. “I suppose I’ll just have to try to win him over,” he concluded.

“Then I’ll help,” the princess assured him, letting a small smile ghost over her lips. “He is my brother, after all.” As they turned their gazes back up to the gem-studded darkness above, they drifted into a comfortable silence, so very unlike the kind they had too often shared. On this strange causeway, the tension that had followed them about like a dark cloud from the beginning of their courtship felt as if it had completely dissipated.

Her thoughts wandered back to the words they had last exchanged. Once, she would’ve been able to say with great confidence that she knew her brother, knew him well enough to tell her new husband exactly what Rhaegar’s perception of him would be--but the words did not come forth so easily now. He was her brother and she loved him, that much would never change, but it was clear that other things had. Then again, perhaps Rhaegar wasn’t the only one who’d changed. Maybe Rhaegar would think that she too had changed in ways she wasn’t even aware of yet.

When they met again, could things go back to the way things had been before? If they could just sit and talk aimlessly about hopes and fears and dreams as they once had, if he could answer the questions bubbling deep within her, would she be able to say she knew her brother through and through again? She dearly hoped so. He was the only brother she had left--likely the only sibling she would ever have by blood. Surely, there was nothing grievous enough to come between them.

Despite the mixture of anxiety and anticipation that brewed within her at the thought of reuniting with Rhaegar, Aeranys couldn’t help but find comfort in the feeling of her husband’s hand curled about her own. The same calm followed her when she retired to bed, lulling her into a peaceful sleep she hadn’t had in months, dreamless and deep.


**************


Time seemed to run strangely on the causeway. Without the blazing sun rising and dipping in the sky, it was difficult to tell what hour it was in the day, or whether night had already passed. When Aeranys roused herself and made her way back onto the deck, it barely looked as if any time had passed since she had retired to the cabin--and yet, it was not long afterward that a cry went up to prepare to dock.

Blinking, she watched the hurried movements of the skilled sailors, wondering if they were to stop at a village to resupply and allow the men and women working the oars to rest. The thought that they might have reached the end of their journey did not even occur to her until they pulled out into the blinding sunlight and she was escorted off of the longboat and led towards a small cluster of people standing by a group of….creatures. They would be making the remainder of the journey on the backs of these strange animals.

They were tall with gangly legs, light brown in pelt. She had seen a sketch of them in a book before, and yet it couldn’t have prepared her for the sight of them in real life. As the young man by her side spoke to the man leading the camels to them, she noticed a woman tightening the saddles on their backs. At her side was a young girl no older than ten, olive-skinned with a rough braid wound tightly down her back, who was staring at her with wide brown eyes. Aeranys gave her a smile in silent response, which seemed to embolden the girl enough for her to stray from her mother and step up to the foreign princess.

“I’ve never seen anyone that looks like you,” the girl remarked in place of a greeting, her gaze roving from her silvery hair to her lilac eyes.

“Is that so?” the young woman returned kindly, her quiet smile still in place. Turning, she gestured towards the camels. “Well, I’ve never seen animals like these.”

The girl’s eyes went wide, surprise sparkling within them. “You’ve never seen a camel?”

“No.”

“So you’ve never ridden one?” she immediately questioned with an amused laugh. The very idea seemed unimaginable to her, the girl who had likely learned to ride before she could quite run.

“Never. This will be my first time,” Aeranys confirmed, her own lips spreading into a broad smile.

“There’s nothing to worry about, m’lady,” her mother reassured her, stepping up to place a hand on her daughter’s shoulder. “Our beasts are well-trained, and the journey should take no more than an hour.”

“You have my thanks,” the princess replied cordially, to which the older woman gave her a respectful nod and herded her young daughter away, directing her to check the straps on the saddles. Watching them, Aeranys found herself musing on the information she had just been given. No less than an hour? Had they been on the causeway much longer than she had thought? Or…

The sound of her name being called shook her out of her thoughts. It was time to set off, and Aeranys allowed herself to be helped onto her strange steed. The saddle was much higher than that of a horse, and the gait was not as smooth, she noted to herself--but the key, as she had learned so many years ago, was to relax and move with the animal. Of course, that was easier said than done, but luckily, it did not take long for the stiffness in her shoulders to loosen as she grew used to the movement of the camel, which allowed her the presence of mind to look about at her surroundings.

The Red Mountains loomed on the horizon, rusty-red against the clear sky. She had seen part of the range before, seeing as it stretched up into the Stormlands and even the Reach, but she had never seen it from this side. As they drew closer to their destination, a small point could be seen in the distance--the tower where her brother was, she was told, and her pulse quickened.

It was not long after that they were met with a small group of riders coming towards them from the direction of the tower. “Mors!” she heard the familiar voice call out as the riders halted, and the figure riding at the head pulled off his helm to reveal the handsome face of Arthur Dayne. Her gaze immediately shot to the riders around him, searching for another familiar face. Rhaegar--where was Rhaegar? Unfortunately, her search proved futile, and she turned to watch Mors and Arthur greet each other warmly, exchanging words that she could not quite catch. The Dayne knight came to her next, smiling brightly as he took her hand and kissed it. “Aeranys,” he greeted her, his voice lilting gently in the way it always did with her name.

“Arthur,” she returned with equal affection, squeezing his hand tightly. “I am so happy to see you here.” Arthur was a skilled swordsman nearly without par, but that wasn’t the only reason she was glad to have him by her brother’s side. After all, even from youth, Arthur had been one of very few people able to stir Rhaegar from his moods or a conviction of his.

“And I, you. Though I imagine Rhaegar will be happier,” the knight added with a knowing smile. “Come, he’s waiting.”

The rest of the journey felt like mere seconds to her, and soon--although not soon enough--the doors before them opened, and there, in the middle of the room, stood Rhaegar. He looked almost exactly as she remembered him, and the moment her eyes fell on his face she forgot all the anxiousness she’d been feeling, even the doubts creeping in the corners of her heart. For the moment, none of it mattered--her brother was here, her brother was safe. In a place a long, long way from home, here was a piece of home.

“Rhaegar,” she breathed, a smile breaking like dawn over her face as her hand slipped from the crook of her husband’s arm. Striding forward, she reached out to embrace him, but he stopped her short before she could with a hand on her forearm. Aeranys searched her brother’s face in confusion, but his eyes were cool and reserved when they passed over her. Immediately, something icy spread through her, freezing her stiff. She knew that look. But...why?

“Little sister,” he was saying, his tone cordial enough as he released her and patted her cheek. “I can see you’ve been well.” It was all he offered her before he stepped past her to greet the Dornish Prince, nodding his head in respectful acknowledgment. “Both you and Dorne have my deepest gratitude for providing us shelter and generous aid in our hour of need, Prince Mors.” As the two princes shared a firm handshake, Aeranys found her composure once more. Squaring her shoulders, she made her way back to her husband’s side, watching the two young men’s faces attentively. For now, she would have to focus on making sure that this first encounter between Rhaegar and Mors went smoothly as possible; whatever was fouling things in her own relationship with her brother would have to wait for the time being.

And yet, wasn’t someone missing from this picture…?

“Rhaegar?” a clear voice called. Her brother turned immediately at the sound, walking across the room to the corridor on the side. When he returned, it was with a dark-haired girl on his arm--Lyanna Stark. He led her back to the center of the floor, a protective arm around her slender form.

“May I introduce Lady Lyanna Stark, of Winterfell,” the Targaryen prince announced proudly, his eyes warm as summer as he looked down to the young beauty.

“Milord, milady,” Lyanna curtsied, though it was made slightly difficult by her condition. Her hands rested about her belly, which had yet to become overly burdensome despite being prominent enough to make the rumors undeniable. If she could hazard a guess, Aeranys surmised that she still had a few moons before she would give birth.

“Mors Nymeros Martell, milady,” the Dornish prince at her side returned with a graceful bow. “Allow me to extend a word of condolence along with Dorne’s welcome. I am sorry for your loss.”

The young woman only furrowed her brow at his words, a quick laugh rising to her lips. “And what loss is that?” she inquired, completely unaware of the way both Targaryen siblings stiffened--albeit for different reasons. Unfortunately, neither of them was quick enough to stop what was coming next.

“Your father and eldest brother, I understand they were good and honourable men. I’m sorry I was never given the chance to meet them.” His voice was quietly sympathetic, his gaze sincere, and yet, it could not soften the blow that was struck.

“What, what are you...” Lyanna uttered in disbelief, her smile fading. “Father and Brandon?” At the heavy silence, disbelief led swiftly to panic. “Rhaegar?” she demanded, looking up at him. In his face, however, she would find no shock or disbelief, but an uncomfortable truth. “No…” she stumbled back, looking dazed. Rhaegar reached for her, but she stepped further away, shaking her head. “Tell me it’s not true,” she blurted out, her grey eyes going Rhaegar to Aeranys, then to Mors, but in their eyes she would not find a gentle lie. “No, no, no--It can’t be true!” she cried, her voice breaking as tears began to streak down her pretty face.


(https://i.pinimg.com/originals/a9/34/72/a93472c81305ddd62a2aea9718b0fd4a.gif)

“Lyanna, love,” Rhaegar caught her in his arms, cupping her face in his hands as he tried to calm her down. “Look at me, I--”

“You knew,” she choked out between sobs, her expression stricken with betrayal. “You knew--how could you!” Ripping herself from his grasp, the young woman fled in tears; Rhaegar followed immediately after, calling for her, but the sound of a heavy wooden door being slammed shut was the only answer he received. Dumbstruck by the storm that had suddenly come upon them, Aeranys could only stand there like a marble statue, exchanging stunned looks with the other two witnesses in the room. He hadn’t told her? How could that possibly be?

When Rhaegar returned he looked none-too-pleased. To an outsider he must have looked merely frustrated, but Aeranys and Arthur both knew that he was angry enough to spit fire.

You, Prince Mors,” he began venomously, storming forth with his indigo gaze fixed on the man who had let slip word of the tragedy. “Out of all of the bloody--

Years ago, when Rhaegar had spoken contemptuously about the Dornish prince, it had been loyal Arthur Dayne who had stepped forth to defend him. He would have gladly done it again, but this time it was not the knight that brought Targaryen prince to halt, but his younger sister.

Aeranys stood between the two princes, a slender hand at her brother’s chest. “I’d like to speak with my brother in private,” she requested politely, though she did not turn to address the knight nor her husband.

“There will be no need for that,” began Rhaegar dismissively, gesturing at Arthur, but his sister would not be waved away.

“Please,” was all the princess uttered, but the single word--clear and firm as unsheathed steel--was more than enough.
Title: Re: The Golden Sun and the Silver Moon [m]
Post by: Reigning King on June 10, 2020, 03:50:30 PM
Riding by camel was something that most, if not all, children in Dorne learned from a young age.  They were essential in voyaging across the desert sands and surprisingly sure-footed on the more rocky terrain of the Northern mountains.  Princess Aeranys was awkward at first astride her mount, but eventually settled into the teetering sway of the camel’s measured gait.  Before long, the Tower of Joy was within sight along with a collection of approaching riders.  Mors guided his desert steed before that of his wife’s, bringing them both to a stop as he helped her from her saddle.  Her stiff legs stumbled under her, but only just, and Mors was there to catch her with a hand upon her waist.  She wore red on this day, the colours of her born House.  He preferred the blood and black shades upon her to the delicate purples and soft yellows she so often donned.  When he heard his name called, he forgot about his wife and dropped her hands from his, turning at once to the sound. 

“Mors!” The Knight called, pulling off his helm to reveal shining hair and a smile as bright as any star.

“Arthur!” The Dornish Prince called back, hurrying through the sands, even as they slipped beneath his feet as the Knight of the Kingsguard rushed in to greet him.  They collided, crashing into each other as each threw his arms around the other.  The momentum made them sway back and forth as they held each other before at last, both men broke away from the embrace, eyes swimming with feeling as they looked each other up and down. 

“You’ve gotten taller,” Arthur mused. 

“You’ve gotten fatter,” Mors replied.  Both men stared one another down in silence for a beat before they broke into a shared laughter in unison.  Though they had pulled away from their tender-hearted embrace, neither one seemed quite ready to let go of the other.  Prince Mors of Sunspear let his hand linger upon the Knight’s shoulder, while Ser Arthur of Starfall kept his fingers curled about the back of the Prince’s neck. 

“Your hair,” Arthur observed as his laughter subsided, the smile never fully leaving his face.  Bringing his hand from Mors’ neck to his short locks, he shook sturdy fingers through them as Mors did with his own younger brothers.  “You’ve cut off all your curls.” Though Arthur kept his warm disposition upon his face, Mors’ expression had grown serious.  Arthur had ever been the sort to cling to a gentle moment, but Mors had questions that would not wait, not for even another instant. 

“Ashara, is she…?” Prince Mors began, but Arthur was already rushing to ease his worry. 

“She is safe.” He answered at once.  “She stays with Cersei and the babe in Maegar’s Holdfast.”

Shoulders that had been tensed, bracing for a potential blow, visibly relaxed.  Upon his exhaled breath of relief, Mors tightened the hand that held Ser Arthur’s shoulder affectionately.  “And you?” He asked.  “I trust the Manwoody’s have been good to you?”

“Better than I deserve, no doubt.” Ser Arthur answered with that gentle, smiling cadence that came so easily to him.  He had been the subject of much gossip within the Dornish Court, but only because there were so many women; available, promised or otherwise, who desired him.  Ser Arthur didn’t spend his days entertaining courtiers or toying with blushing ladies.  The eldest Dayne son was made of different stuff, nobility and honour carved into his very bones from his first breath.  There had only ever been one woman in Ser Arthur’s charmed life who had caught his eye.  Only one woman he had ever loved…

“Aeranys,” he greeted tenderly, pulling Prince Mors from his thoughts as he stepped around the young man to bow before Princess Aeranys, dropping a sweet kiss upon her outstretched hand. 

“Arthur,” she returned.  “I’m so happy to see you here.”  As she spoke, Prince Mors returned himself to his place at his wife’s side.  He tucked his feelings away as best as he could.  The woman upon his arm however, had gotten better at seeing what lurked beneath the mask in recent days.  It would be as obvious to her as it would be to anyone who knew the Golden Fang well.  To see Arthur, to hear his voice, to be near him; it made the Dornish Prince bloom like a flower in the sun. 

All too quickly they were within the stone walls of the Tower of Joy, Prince Rhaegar Targaryen before them.  At once, Prince Mors Martell dropped his arm accommodatingly.  As expected, his wife rushed forward with her arms outstretched to greet the brother she had not seen for weeks, for months.  When the crowned Prince, all silver hair and shining eyes, caught his sister by the arm, rejecting her embrace in lieu of a condescending pat upon the cheek, Mors pulled a face.  His gaze flicked to Ser Arthur who looked back at him with a matching expression, brow furrowed in confusion. The young Dornishman was not given the chance to muse over his observation however, as the moment was only that, a mere moment.  Swiftly, Prince Rhaegar stepped around his sister to offer the Dornish Prince a polite greeting and political thanks.  His words carried with them the warmth that should have belonged to his little sister.  She returned to his side in silence, the facade of demure compliance her husband hated so much painted across her features, something that Mors noticed all too keenly. 

“Both you and Dorne have my deepest gratitude for providing us with shelter and generous aid in our hour of need, Prince Mors.” The heir to the Seven Kingdoms said humbly, extending his hand to the man who was now his brother by marriage. 

“Dorne is with you and your family, your Grace.” Prince Mors answered, taking the hand offered to him and shaking firmly, perhaps a little too firmly. 

“Rhaegar?” A high voice called as a woman, round with child, stepped out into the larger chamber with the Targaryen Prince at her side.  Lady Lyanna Stark, the woman who was the singular reason behind the ensuing rebellion that raged beyond the shadow of the Red Mountains of Dorne.  She was young, younger than Mors had been expecting.  Her grey eyes were round as her cheeks, her face made full by the extra weight she carried to feed the life that grew within her belly.  It was a life that likely meant more to her than anything else in this wretched world, for all the suffering and loss she had endured in such a short amount of time to protect the unborn child she cradled in her hands that lie beneath the stretched skin under the linens of her dress. 

“Allow me to extend a word of condolence along with Dorne’s welcome.  I am sorry for your loss, my Lady.” As Prince Mors spoke he brought a hand to lay flat over his heart and bowed shallowly in a polite showing of humility. 

“And what loss is that?” Lady Lyanna inquired quickly, a challenging sort of quirk in her brow.  She was a cheeky thing.  As strong as the gossips had led the Dornish Prince to believe she would be.  Of course, she had suffered much loss since the rebellion had been but a whisper rippling through Westeros.  Even more so, now that the war had truly begun.   She had lost her home, her peace, perhaps even the love of her countrymen.  All at once, she reminded Mors too much of the little sister he had left in Sunspear. 

I’ll never leave you alone in this world.

“Your father and eldest brother,” he answered, allowing his features to capture all the sincerity he felt echoing in his blackened heart.  “I understand that they were good and honourable men.  I’m sorry I was never given the chance to meet them.”

“What…” The Northern girl stuttered in return.  “What are you… Father and Brandon…” Her breathing became laboured, her face going white as her lover’s hair as the hysteria began mounting within her.  At once, the Golden Fang realized his mistake.  While she stood there, looking between those who surrounded her, pale and panicked, the Dornishman before her felt his throat fall into the base of his stomach.  Were he a man of gentler means, his heart would have broken in tandem with her own. His olive-hued hands extended before him helplessly, as though he expected her to faint, as though he might be able to snatch his words from the air and pull them back.  Yet, there was no undoing what Prince Mors had done.  Once she found her voice, it was anger that poured forth from her pink lips.  If it had been Arianne standing before him now, she would have reacted just the same.  She would never forgive the man who kept such a secret from her. 

Lady Lyanna brushed aside Prince Rhaegar’s attempts to comfort her, flying from the room with the young dragon fast on her heels.  As he watched them go, quiet words fell from Prince Mors’ lips in disbelief.  “She didn’t know…” He muttered.  The Golden Fang, for all his notoriety as nothing short of a monster, would never do something like that to his own sister.  Never… Yet, here was not Prince Rhaegar’s sister, but rather his lover.  The Northern girl reminded him so much of the young woman he adored more than life itself, it took him a moment to remember that Prince Rhaegar’s sister, the little dragon he ought to love just the same, stood next to him.  He looked to her now, grief falling through him like a boulder all over again at the sight of her pretty face.  The loneliness that Prince Mors had worked so diligently to stopper into a slow drip seemed to have crashed upon her like a crushing wave, leaving her broken anew in its wake. 

“Aeranys…” The Dornish Prince started, reaching for his wife’s hand, curling his fingers around hers.  She was given only the briefest of moments to return his meaningful gaze with one of her own before the heir to the Seven Kingdoms stormed back into the room.  He paused for a moment, angry indigo eyes flicking pointedly to their tangled fingers.  Princess Aeranys pulled her hand from her husbands so quickly that it was impossible for the Dornish Prince not to notice the instinctive response.  Once more, he had not the chance to wonder at the woman at his side.  Prince Rhaegar strode forward, breathing fire upon the young man whose family had worked so hard to secure his safety. 

“You, Prince Mors…” He fumed indignantly.  “Out of all the bloody—”

Prince Mors stood with his back straight, accusation poised to strike from the forked tongue that lay in wait.  Neither men were given the opportunity to give voice to the resentment that leered in their shared gaze as Princess Aeranys stepped up to put herself between them, a hand upon her brother’s chest.  “I’d like to speak to my brother in private… Please.” Her words were meant for the Dornish men who joined them in the small room but her violet eyes remained fixed upon her brother. 

“As you say,” Prince Mors replied in a calm, even voice that was more his father’s than his own.  He folded his hands behind his back and moved from the room with Ser Arthur in tow.  Looking back over his shoulder, he willed his wife to meet his gaze, to speak sense to him in their silent way.  Yet, no such validation came and he watched after the back of her silver head even as the heavy doors closed between them. 

“He didn’t tell her.” Mors began as he walked shoulder to shoulder with the Knight who had always been nothing less than a brother to the Dornish Prince.  “How could he not tell her?” He asked, his intuition crawling up his back and pitching his voice into an incredulous tone. 

“You’re telling me that you keep no secrets from your new wife?” Ser Arthur asked, defensiveness for his Prince giving his voice an uncharacteristic prickle. 

“None which I intend to keep secret for long.” He answered, jealous in spite of himself.  There had once been a time when Mors was only Prince that Ser Arthur recognized.  “Though, I suppose I have been less kind with my… companions.” 

“Lady Lyanna is no such woman.” Ser Arthur pointed out.  “She is Prince Rhaegar’s wife now, in the eyes of the Seven.”

Booted feet stopped short, stern yellow eyes coming to face the Knight before him harshly.  “His what?” He asked coldly. 

“Come Mors,” Arthur began, placing a hand upon his friend’s shoulder and encouraging him onward.  “We have much to discuss.”

Title: Re: The Golden Sun and the Silver Moon [m]
Post by: Reigning King on June 10, 2020, 03:51:04 PM
Continued...

(https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/7lWl1TsyxynR4M33OIkexTbR0UCnA5haZhmT0AgHG0wnBAOtRLwqYJK8I0Zo9iaF4HTmstA3AnPIUzJ8PPa16T0qobrEfwxZVlCen7UKICjyOMhIEEijte0u_bvzKrlAvBxSpzJc)

Prince Mors Nymeros Martell sat alone in the humble quarters that had been prepared for him and his wife within the Tower of Joy.  The largest and more decorous rooms had been claimed by Prince Rhaegar and the woman who had apparently become his new Princess.  They were modest, plain quarters but no word of objection would pass Prince Mors’ lips on the subject, nor Princess Aeranys’ he expected.  The pair was not the sort to cause a fuss over such an insignificant detail.  The wait however, was unbearable.  He sat in the quiet of the room in one of two chairs positioned before an empty hearth.  The sun moved in the sky, casting shadows about the stone floors but Prince Mors did not stray from his post.  When finally, the minutes had dragged on, becoming hours, the door swung open and Princess Aeranys entered. 

“Aeranys,” her name fell from his lips like a prayer as he bolted upright from his perch.  When she padded her way into the room, looking weathered and worn, he lowered himself back down into his chair as she took the one beside him. 

“Are you alright?” He asked her.  “Your brother…” He meant to go on, but the forlorn look in her eyes made his words stop short.  "What is it?"
She took a moment in her silence, gathering her thoughts before she squared herself to her husband. 

“I must ask you something.” Princess Aeranys began.  "And please, answer me truthfully."

“Of course.” The Prince of Dorne replied without even a moment’s hesitation. 

“If they should die, my brother… my mother…” Something caught in her voice and she cast her gaze to her hands which were clasped tightly together in her lap.  Reaching across the space between them, Mors laid his hand atop hers with a feather-light touch.  The gesture seemed to renew her courage as she lifted her violet eyes once more to meet his golden ones.  “If something should happen to my family, would you hide it from me?"

"Never." Prince Mors replied, quick and sure of his answer.  "I said my vows, Aeranys.  I am yours just as you are mine.  I wouldn't keep something like that from you." His brow wrinkled in turmoil as he spoke, wondering at just what exactly her brother had said to her that would inspire such a line of questioning from the tired Princess before him. 

"Promise?" She asked.

(https://media.giphy.com/media/gKCFwoZ8GUHLL12IwS/giphy.gif)

“I promise,” he began, his voice drifting off as the hands beneath his own reached for the familiar curl of his fingers.  “Come here.” Prince Mors uttered quietly as he dropped from his seat to kneel before her.  His arms reached around her, pulling her tight against him as he held her against his chest, fingertips coming to touch upon the ends of her short hair.  “Don't give up on me until I've had the chance to set things right. I will protect them for you.” The Golden Fang told his wife, a rare softness touching upon his words as they fell from his lips, whispered into the curve of her porcelain neck.  “You are my family now.  You are not alone.” Closing his eyes, he let his head fall against hers tenderly.  “You won’t ever have to be alone again.” Her stiff posture relaxed within his arms as she curled herself into his broad, warm chest.  It was hard to say for how long they sat on the floor together, holding each other into the evening.  When Ser Arthur came knocking to call the newly wedded pair for dinner, Mors was still reluctant to let her go.  Instead he took her hand, their fingers knotting together in silent solidarity. 

When they entered the small, main hall of the Tower the meal had already begun, those in attendance already seated around the table before their plated food.  Ser Devran had joined them, Lord Manwoody and Prince Oberyn as well.  When Prince Rhaegar's deep indigo gaze lifted from his plate to his sister, his eyes fell once more on the clasped hands between them.  This time, Prince Mors of Dorne did not let his wife pull her hand from his.  Instead he squeezed her fingers tighter, meeting the Dragon Prince’s curious stare directly.  With a heavy silence hanging in the air, the Prince and Princess of Dorne moved to their places at the table.  Mors took care to pull out his wife’s chair and tuck her into place, never failing to notice Prince Rhaegar’s watchful eyes as they followed them.  Once seated, servants were quick to fill their goblets with wine and set plates of warm food in front of them. 

Feigning ignorance, Prince Mors reached for his wine before he began to cut into his waiting meal.  He paused however, when something caught his attention.  A hand moved across his plate to pluck the napkin from where it sat, folded into a neat triangle.  With a few more folds, the simple napkin became something else and when he placed the thin, stiff cloth before his wife, it stood in the shape of the paper birds that Nymeria had taught him how to make.  His eyes met hers and sparked with delight at the sight of the smile he had managed to pull forth from her gloom.  When her elder brother cleared his throat from across the table, she was snapped awake from the spell, returning to her meal as her smile faded from her sad lips. Mors did not miss the way her violet eyes drifted nervously to the crowned Prince Rhaegar. 

“We will be ready to depart with the rising sun, your Grace.” Lord Manwoody said conversationally, the first to break the weighty silence that enveloped them. 

“We will depart in the coming days,” Prince Rhaegar corrected without looking up from the food in front of him. 

“But, my Prince, I thought…” Lord Manwoody tried, but the silver-haired Prince was already speaking over him.

“I won’t leave Lady Lyanna in such a state.” He explained coolly, a note of finality to his stern tone.  “It isn’t good for the baby.”  The indigo gaze that had been focused on his meal lifted to touch upon those who sat around him at the humble, wooden table.  “The Realms will wait for their rightful Queen.”

“The Realms are bleeding.” Prince Mors interjected, a certain bite to his words.  “Your people are dying for you and your Queen even as we sit here now.” The words were said as though they were in defense of an unjust insult.  After all, the Realms already had a Queen and the daughter to that Queen sat beside him now.

“I don’t recall you being so soft of heart, Prince Mors.” The heir to the Seven Realms retorted in a sarcastical drawl, cruelty lurking in his narrowed stare.  As he inhaled a breath, prepared to reply to the entitled young man before him in kind, a gentle hand upon his arm made him stop short.  The Golden Fang looked to his wife before clearing his throat and reaching instead for his goblet, tipping the Dornish reds down his throat to drown the venomous words rising from his stomach. 

“Soft perhaps, but not wrong.” Ser Arthur offered, filling the tensed silence with patient reasoning.  “We should leave at our earliest opportunity, my Prince.”

We will not be going anywhere.” Prince Rhaegar snapped back, gesturing with his knife to the space between the two.  “You will stay here, at the Tower of Joy, to guard Lady Lyanna.” The words came like a blow, not only to Ser Arthur but the Dornish Prince who had been so eager to once more have his foster-brother at his side.  This time it was not Princess Aeranys who brought the Golden Fang to stillness, but instead the Dornish Knight at his side. 

“Easy, Mors…” Ser Devran muttered quietly, his voice low enough to be kept between those who represented their Realm to the man who would one day rule over her. 

Prince Mors Nymeros Martell exhaled sharply out of his nose, biting down hard on his food since he could not sink his teeth into the source of his vexation who sat across from him.  His carefully crafted mask was cracking, feeling bleeding through.  There was only so much that the Dornish Prince could endure and already, his tail had been sent twitching into a warning rattle that echoed through the Tower of Joy. 
Title: Re: The Golden Sun and the Silver Moon [m]
Post by: asterin on June 11, 2020, 01:02:20 PM
(https://66.media.tumblr.com/21997b9284d8ba36913b119776ee1608/716c40b15b133374-d2/s540x810/281bc3c2e14315a599da535d506bdb82521d941a.gifv)


The heavy wooden doors closed far behind them. The sound echoed in the empty hall, which was almost eerily quiet in comparison to the heartbroken wails that had just filled the place. In the center of the room the two Targaryen siblings stood, both wearing the mask of composure that their mother had passed down to them; even Rhaegar, whose temper had run hot just a moment prior, had suddenly cooled in the silence.

It was the younger who broke the stillness first, her tone measured. “You didn’t tell her.”

“Come now, Aeranys,” her brother cajoled with a scoff. “We’re alone now. Is that the first thing you wanted to say to me?”

“It wasn’t, but it is now,” she replied flatly, unwilling to be swayed from the topic at hand. “Why didn’t you tell her the truth?”

He shook her head dismissively, his twilight eyes roving the empty room as if he had invisible allies that would agree with his frustrations. “Don’t be silly, little sister. You wouldn’t want to hear such a thing if you were in Lyanna’s place.”

“Yes, I would,” the princess retorted firmly, but Rhaegar did not seem terribly convinced at all.

“You’re just saying so because you don’t know how horrible it would be,” he brushed her off again.

For a moment she could only stare. Because she didn’t know? Aeranys found herself letting out a short breath of exasperation. “I was there, Rhaegar,” she countered sharply, and at long last his eyes truly met hers, startled. “I saw the whole thing.” She approached him step by step, refusing to let him look away as she continued, her words falling fast and angry as she recounted the cruelty she’d been forced to witness. “I watched Rickard Stark burn--I smelled his flesh roast, I heard him cry out in pain. I saw his son strangling himself to death, desperate to save his father. I watched his face turn purple, I heard him choke, I--”

“Enough, enough!” Rhaegar barked, causing the young woman to fall silent. She watched as he closed his eyes as he paced the room, pinching the bridge of his nose as if he was trying to ward off a headache. “This...this language, it doesn’t suit you,” he gestured in disgust.

“Coward,” the word abruptly bubbled up from within her before she’d quite realized it, breathed low--but Rhaegar did not miss it.

“What?” he demanded hotly, rounding upon her, and immediately, her gaze flinched away to the floor.

Even though her head was bowed, she could feel his eyes burning into her face, hot as wildfire. It was almost enough to make the words in her throat shrivel away, but something made her lift her head and meet his gaze, lilac on indigo. Indignant defiance surged through her veins, filling her up and lending a cutting edge to her voice. “You’re a coward,” she repeated the sentiment without hesitation. “You just wanted to turn a blind eye to the consequences to your actions, and telling her would’ve shattered your cozy haven.”

“Aeranys...” he warned, but the fire that had been lit within her could not be smothered.

“Maybe it doesn’t reach you up here, Rhaegar, but out there, we are at war,” she went on, her eyes flashing. “Even as we speak, King’s Landing could be besieged--our mother, your son, hundreds of innocents--they could all be killed! You might as well have set the whole Realm aflame, and meanwhile, you’ve been here the entire time,” she gestured disdainfully to the tower that housed them, “so blind and so far removed from reality that you could call this place the Tower of Joy!”

“Enough!”

She stumbled back, a hand clasped to her face where he’d struck her. In the next heartbeat, a thin stream of blood began to drip from her nose, splattering onto the stone floor, and the siblings could only stare at each other in stunned, horrified silence. It was Rhaegar who averted his gaze first, turning from her.

“This conversation is over,” he muttered, moving to walk away, but slender hands clutched at his wrist.

“Rhaegar, please,” Aeranys started anew, her voice now soft and contrite. As it had been since they’d been young children, it was always she who first begged for forgiveness, for reconciliation. “I’ve been worried sick about you, I’ve been praying for you every day. I don’t understand, I…” she swallowed with difficulty. “I’ve missed you more than I could put into words, but you… Why are you angry with me? What did I do?”

He said nothing in response, standing still and silent with his back turned to her, but Aeranys was not deterred. If he would not tell her what was poisoning his mind, she would do as they’d always done upon their brother’s bed--confess first, bare the doubts and fears, so that the others would feel no shame in doing the same. 

“I know,” she admitted shakily, her eyes dropping to the stone floor below them. “You were here from the start, weren’t you? Father didn’t arrange my marriage, at least not alone.” Aeranys had tried to convince herself that she was only being paranoid, but deep down in her bones, she knew the truth. It was time to face it. “I’m not a child, I know you wouldn’t have broken your promise unless you had to,” she rushed to reassure him, “And I understand you wanted to stay with Lyanna, but,” her voice grew strained. “You could have at least written to me and explained. Told me what was going on, that you were safe...” Unable to continue, she fell silent for a moment, her head dropping forward to lean against his back. His warmth was as it had always been, and hoping, praying, she managed to whisper her plea. “I don’t need an apology, but please, talk to me.”

The Rhaegar she knew would have softened by now. He would wipe her tears and promise he loved her still, but it seemed that things had truly changed between them. “If you’re accusing me of betraying you, just know that it was you who first dealt in treachery.” He told her coldly, shaking his arm from her grasp.

For a moment she couldn’t speak, thoroughly bewildered by his words, but even that was swiftly put aside as she desperately clutched at the unraveling strings of their bond. “I-I don’t understand, but I promise, I can. If we just sit and tell each other what’s on our minds like we used to, surely--”

“I don’t have time for childish fancies,” he interrupted curtly. “As you have so sagely enlightened me, little sister, we are at war.”

“Rhaegar,” she tried again, but he would not meet her eyes. He strode briskly away, only to stop short at the arch separating the hall from the corridor that would lead to Lyanna Stark.

“And furthermore, you best pray that what your husband has done will not cause Lyanna or my son any harm,” he added witheringly, his back still to her. “If the Realms lose its rightful Queen and heir, he will be to blame.”

“He didn’t know--” she immediately began in defense of her husband, but as her brother’s words sank in, she came to an abrupt stop. “Wait, what?” she questioned, her face draining of color as her expression turned from incredulity to horror. “You don’t mean…”

“She is my wife now, my true wife,” he declared as he turned to face her, standing straight and proud as he stared off into the distance, caught in a vision of his grand future. “My son will be my trueborn son, and he will carry the Targaryen legacy on his shoulders.”

“Rhaegar!” she cried, distress pulling her voice taught and high. Surely he could understand what chaos would be unleashed upon Westeros--this was beyond foolish. “Are you mad? Do you intend to see the Seven Kingdoms burn to the ground?”

“Do not forget to whom you speak!” he thundered. It was clear that he was done listening to her as he encroached upon her, his indigo gaze seething. “And do not forget who my wife is to be. She will be your Queen soon, and my son, your next King after me.” He pointed at her accusingly, contempt dripping from his tone. “It will do both you and your husband good to remember that.”

And with that he strode off, leaving her standing all alone in the hall, biting back the tears that threatened to overwhelm her.


(https://i.imgur.com/aEeg5EB.gif)



***************


She could hear them in the darkness around her. Prowling, circling. When she opened her eyes, she knew she was dreaming. Standing draped in shadow, she looked up to the Iron Throne above her. There sat the twisted dragon as it always did, bent and hideous, illuminated in the darkness by the sickly green of wildfire. It saw her, as it always did, but it was not the wildfire that came next. From the inky depths of the gloom, beasts came hurtling through the air, claws outstretched and fangs bared. The dragon let out a shriek as they set upon it, the lions snarling ferociously as they tore the disfigured creature to bits. Then all at once they turned to her, muzzles stained red. They growled, hackles raised as their predatory golden gaze bore into her.

They saw her. They saw, and they hungered.

Just as they pounced, roaring their victory, she woke once more in the dark. Sitting up, she caught her breath, painfully aware of her heart racing erratically beneath her ribs. Unease gripped her whole as she tried to calm herself, brushing away the cold sweat that had broken out over her skin. The Red Keep...it had to be safe still, she told herself, even though she knew there was nothing to ensure such a thing. Her mother...no, she couldn’t think about that. Forcing herself to take in slow breaths, she looked about herself in the dark. As far as she could tell it was still deep into the night, and much to her relief, it seemed that she hadn’t disturbed the Dornish prince beside her. Carefully, she lowered herself back onto the bed, blinking up at the canopy above them.

A dream. Only a dream, she reminded herself.  But it never is, is it? something within her whispered. Just a dream?

Squeezing her eyes shut, she turned onto her side. When she let herself open her eyes, she could see the slumbering figure of her husband. He slept with his head turned away from her and the cold glow of the moon, his chest rising and falling at a pace that was slow and peaceful, unlike her own stilted breathing. I will protect them for you, he’d promised her, holding her tight. All she could manage at the time was to nod against his chest, too emotionally spent to say much of anything. In fact, she’d even been too weary to be surprised or startled by just how warm his embrace had been. The only thing she could think of was how long it’d been since she’d been held in such a tender way. The last time had been on that night she’d departed the Red Keep, her mother’s final embrace and Madge’s tight, tearful one--it felt so long ago, so far away. It made her feel small and lonelier than ever, but once again, his words drifted back to her.

You are my family now--you are not alone. You won’t ever have to be alone again.

Ignoring her better judgment she slid closer to her sleeping husband, taking care to move slowly. Curling up onto her side, she let her forehead lay ever-so-slightly against his shoulder while her arms came to rest between them, her fingers only a small distance from his elbow, where her hand so often rested in. It might have been a far cry from an embrace, but to Aeranys, it was enough for her to close her eyes, letting the warmth between them seep down into her chilled bones. In time her breathing evened to match his, and her foreboding thoughts warded off for the night, she slipped back into slumber, thankfully unmarred by terror.

Title: Re: The Golden Sun and the Silver Moon [m]
Post by: Reigning King on June 15, 2020, 10:15:56 PM
The afternoon sun hung high and bright in the sky, glistening against the crumbling, abandoned Tower that Prince Rhaegar Targaryen had made his home in the recent months.   The Manwoody forces that had joined them on their journey through the Dornish Causeway had made camp in the surrounding area.  It was this camp in which the Dornish Prince had toiled away his morning into midday.  The men who meandered around him, going about their daily chores, were each of them warriors.  There were no farmers, nor shepherds, nor fishermen carrying swords upon their hips.  Among them were only those who had been trained by scimitar and spear, their round shield an extension of their own personhood.  Prince Mors had replaced his finely tailored robes with thin tunics and breeches, matching the plain garb of those around him as they moved as one.  As they packed supplies and loaded carts, two decorated Knights approached them. 

“Mors!” Ser Devran called. 

“Ah, my friend, there you are.” Prince Mors called as he turned around, wiping the sweat from his brow with a stray rag he had pulled from a pocket.  “And you’ve brought Arthur with you, I see.” He noted, eyes falling upon the sworn Knight of the Kingsguard. 

“I was hoping he might be able to speak sense into that stubborn head of yours.” Ser Devran answered, sunny in spite of the way his liege glared at him. 

“I will not have this conversation with you again,” Mors said with a note of finality, turning his back once more to his childhood friends, the men he looked upon as brothers. 

“Then have it with me.” Ser Arthur said in an easy, amicable voice as he stepped up to place a hand upon Mors’ shoulder.  “What are you doing?” He asked.

“Gathering the camp and taking inventory,” the Dornish Prince answered without turning to look at the man who addressed him.  “Me and my men leave at tomorrow’s first light.” As he spoke he carried on with his task, yet the Dayne of Starfall who stood behind him, followed him as a shadow even after the younger man had slipped out from beneath his hand. 

“I wasn’t aware that Prince Rhaegar had given the order.” Ser Arthur replied, resting his wrists upon the heavy belt around his waist. 

“He didn’t.” Finally, the Golden Fang turned to face the pale-haired Knight.  “I did.”

“Mors…” Ser Arthur started.  At once the Dornish Prince recognized the expression that wrinkled the Knight’s brow and set his lips pursing.  It had been too many years since Mors had been lectured by the swordsman, and too many years had passed for him to be willing to suffer the scolding look he gave him.

“If Prince Rhaegar wants to stay here and play house with his new wife, he is welcome to do so.” Prince Mors interjected sternly.  As he spoke he closed the lid of the crate he packed and latched it before hoisting it into his arms.  “My men leave with me.”

“I told you…” Ser Devran said with a shrug as The White-Cloaked Knight turned to give him a wary look. 

“Mors… Mors!” Ser Arthur continued as both men trailed after the Dornish Prince through the shady camp.  “Please, Mors be reasonable.” He continued, trying to square himself before the young man as he stalked off, in spite of the way Mors continued to sidestep him.  “What if it was your unborn child,” he pleaded.  “What if it was your wife?”

“I would never keep something like that from Aeranys,” he spat back at once, slamming the crate onto the waiting cart and turning on Ser Arthur.  It was clear enough to the man of the Kingsguard that he had struck a nerve, as he recoiled and straightened himself before his friend, prepared for the scorn that had been unleashed upon him.   “I will not accept responsibility for the mistake your Prince made.”

“Let’s talk about this with Rhaegar,” Ser Arthur said as he stepped forward and placed both his hands squarely upon Mors’ shoulders.  This time, he squeezed tight, refusing to permit him from slipping out from his brotherly touch.  “Whatever you might think, he is a good and reasonable man.  He will listen to you, if you give him the chance.” The Golden Fang only scoffed, purposefully allowing his disbelief to show on his face.  “And whatever you might think, you are still my Prince and my brother.”

At that, Prince Mors Nymeros Martell of Dorne stilled beneath Ser Arthur’s hands.  Though he did not seem all too convinced, the Knight knew the right words to settle the young man before him.  At least enough for the usual mask of calm contentment to fall once more into place.  It was a familiar face with which Ser Arthur could more readily reason. However, he was never given the opportunity to try. 

“Is that so, Ser Arthur?” Prince Rhaegar Targaryen said, stepping out from behind the cart that the Dornish Prince had been loading.  “And here I thought it was my family, before whom you knelt and swore your vows…” He mused as he picked at his nails casually before fixing the Dornishmen he now faced with his twinkling twilight eyes.   

“Then it is you who misunderstands, your Grace.” The Golden Fang interjected, naught but venom upon his forked tongue.  “The truest oaths are not sworn upon bent knees.”  Unbowed, unbent, unbroken.  They were his words.  Dorne’s words. 

“You know, in all our years, I have never questioned your loyalties, Ser Arthur.” Prince Rhaegar continued, stepping forward and stepping around the Prince of Dorne as if he had never spoken; as if he wasn’t even there.  “Yet since the arrival of Prince Mors, they seem to change like the winds.” 

“Your Grace, I assure you that—” Ser Arthur tried, but upon Prince Rhaegar raising a silencing hand he quieted.  The Golden Fang recognized the gesture all too keenly, and had never hated himself more. 

“We leave when I say we leave.” Prince Rhaegar said in an authoritative tone, turning at last to Prince Mors Nymeros of Dorne. 

“As you say,” Prince Mors replied.  “But me and my men will be gone by this time tomorrow.” He added. 

“You forget yourself, my Lord.” The Dragon Prince scolded, his tone becoming louder and harsher.  “I give the orders here.”

(https://66.media.tumblr.com/a231e9a163d4fcbe7054fce5cb69ab81/51c4d5e722c4f57b-ca/s540x810/54e28c0e4650b90d1fcd05d77db12ba2bdf9fc3a.gif)

“Then by all means,” The Golden Fang retorted in an evenly matched voice.  “Why don’t you explain to my soldiers why they should stay here instead of marching to the front lines where their fathers, brothers and sisters are all bleeding for your war.”

As Prince Mors of Dorne gestured about himself, Prince Rhaegar's eyes followed.   All at once he was too aware of the Dornishmen who surrounded him.  They had stopped in their chores to watch the unfolding scene.  Each one loyal to House Martell.  Each one unbowed, unbent and unbroken.  Realizing his position and raging in spite of it, he turned on the Dornish Prince with narrowed eyes and snarling teeth. 

“You are merely a Prince of —” The Targaryen heir seethed, but this time it was Prince Mors who interrupted him instead. 

“As are you, your Grace.” He snapped.  “And my orders come from the King of Westeros.” The Golden Fang explained coolly.

There was a beat, then two, then three before finally Prince Rhaegar Targaryen exhaled slowly from his nose, replacing his angry expression with one of calm indifference to match that of the man standing before him.  Through gritted teeth he hissed, “if you think you’ve proven something here Prince Mors…” and as his voice drifted in a hushed threat, the Dornish Prince rushed to fill the silence. 

“I have proven nothing yet, your Grace.” He observed in mock humility.  “But perhaps we should both draw our steel and see if I can’t.”

As the hint of a smile began to touch upon the Golden Fang’s lips, Ser Arthur stepped forth to place himself in between both men.  “Enough!” The White-cloak scolded.  When the Targaryen and Martell men remained poised in challenging opposition, Ser Devran stepped forward to place a hand upon Prince Mors’ arm and pull him away.  A gesture that Ser Arthur could have never carried out against his sworn liege.  The Golden Fang however, the loveless monster he was rumoured to be, permitted himself to be tugged back a few paces by his own man. 

“We march tomorrow,” Prince Rhaegar conceded, though not without adding, “on my command.”

“As you say, your Grace.” Prince Mors returned, the honorifics dragged out into a sarcastic drawl.  He was the first to show his back to the heir of the Seven Kingdoms, stalking off to another area of the camp to continue with his efforts. 

“Insolent boy…” Prince Rhaegar Targaryen muttered behind him, but as Mors’ halted to turn, Ser Devran placed a heavy hand upon his back and urged him forward. 

“Let it go,” he advised in a low voice.  “There will be plenty of time for cock-measuring once we reach the Stormlands.”

“I should bury my axe in his skull.” The Golden Fang muttered to the man at his side. 

“That would be treason, Mors.” Ser Devran chastised. When his liege had no jab to make in return he added in a gentler voice.  “And you wouldn’t do that to Princess Aeranys.”

“You’re right.” Prince Mors replied.  “I wouldn’t.”

(https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/7lWl1TsyxynR4M33OIkexTbR0UCnA5haZhmT0AgHG0wnBAOtRLwqYJK8I0Zo9iaF4HTmstA3AnPIUzJ8PPa16T0qobrEfwxZVlCen7UKICjyOMhIEEijte0u_bvzKrlAvBxSpzJc)

The Golden Fang had changed from his sweaty tunics and dirty breeches into robes more becoming of a Prince of Dorne.  By the time the sun had commenced its journey over the western horizon, he had once more sequestered himself in the humble rooms allotted to him and his wife within the Tower of Joy.  He left the windows all open, permitting the warm Dornish breeze to roll in and fill the chambers with the smell of sun and sand.  He sat alone in the room until a quiet knock and creaking hinges announced his wife, who entered with Ser Devran in tow.  The Knight bowed quickly to his liege and lady, before excusing himself.  When alone, Ser Devran spoke frankly and honestly with his friend.  In the presence of others however, he was ever the picture of decorum.  Something that Prince Mors never failed to notice or appreciate in the man he viewed as a brother. 

“Good evening.” He greeted his wife pleasantly.  “I hope you don’t mind, I had our supper brought here.” As he spoke, he gestured to the spread that had been laid out upon the small, simple wooden table within their quarters.  Rising from where he had been sitting, he moved to the chair at one end of the table, pulling it out and gesturing for Princess Aeranys.  “I wanted you all to myself tonight.” The explanation was offered with the airy cadence of a joke, even if the pleasantry did not quite reach his eyes. 

The Targaryen-born Princess approached and took her seat, her husband pushing her chair into place as she sat.  Gentlemanly in his actions, he poured her wine and filled her plate first before taking his own seat.  The last time he had arranged such an evening in had been under less favourable circumstances.  Tonight however, the feeling between them stood out in stark contrast to that previous night, the difference alike to that of night and day.  They talked over their food as the sun began to set through the open windows, casting the room about them in a warm glow of oranges and pinks.  The light sparkled in her shining lilac eyes as they discussed those things of importance, those of little consequence and everything in between.   

“When my father tells you something, assume you are only ever getting half of the story.” Mors was saying as he set his fork and knife to rest upon his empty plate and reached for the fruit that sat between them.  “Think of everything as a test.” She nodded to him mindfully before casting her gaze out to the golden sun as it fell deeper behind the desert dunes.  He followed her gaze in turn, the pair sitting together in a comfortable silence so unlike the moments of tension and challenge that had come before. 

“I will miss you.” Prince Mors said suddenly, breaking the quiet with sweet words.  “I will look out for your family on your behalf while I’m gone.” He told her when the violet of her eyes met the yellow glow of his own.  “Will you look after mine?” He asked. 

The Golden Fang nodded along with his wife’s words.  Uttering a quiet, “thank you,” before another moment of silence passed between them. 

“If I should fall in battle…” At her utterance he offered her a gentle expression.  “Just listen,” he pleaded.  “If I should fall in battle, and you should be forced to take a new man,” his voice drifted off as his eyes met hers in earnest.  “Just make sure it is someone worthy of you.” He said.  “I promise I won’t be angry.  I only ask that you think of me from time to time.”

The late hours of the night advanced upon them all too quickly in the comfort of their shared tranquility.  Servants of the Targaryen House came to collect the remains of their meal and clear their table before leaving them alone with only the shining moon in the clear sky as their remaining guest.  Having already washed in the late afternoon, Mors stayed in the main quarters as a bath was drawn for his wife.  As he changed into his nightshirt and robe, he was ever-mindful of the splashing waters in the rooms beyond, steering his thoughts from the  naked body that bathed within.  When she emerged, clad in her nightdress with bare feet upon the stone floor, her husband was already in bed.  When she approached the edge of the large expanse of soft sheets, pulling them back, Prince Mors turned onto his side and held his arms out invitingly for his wife.  She paused in her practiced motions, looking to the man beneath her with curiosity tickling upon her brow. 

“Come here,” he beckoned, soft as he had the night before when he pulled her into his arms.  Princess Aeranys crawled into their shared bed, tucking herself into the crook of his shoulder, long arms wrapping around her.  Her hand fell against his chest where his own fell on top, tangling his fingers with hers.  “Goodnight wife,” he whispered into the darkness as his eyes closed and the silver-haired beauty at his side settled against him. 

“Goodnight Mors,” she answered, her hushed words the lullaby upon which he drifted to sleep. 

(https://media.giphy.com/media/JrNUXrZFSRJ7S85ygX/giphy.gif)
Title: Re: The Golden Sun and the Silver Moon [m]
Post by: asterin on June 19, 2020, 12:22:17 PM
Squaring her shoulders, the young woman drew in a breath as she stood before the large doors. Then, gently, she rapped her knuckles against the wood. She waited for a moment, then two. There was no answer. Pursing her lips, she tried again.

“I said leave me be,” the hoarse voice of Lyanna Stark came from within, a biting edge to her words despite it being so clear that she had been weeping for some time.

“I’m sorry for disturbing you. I’ll leave you to rest,” Aeranys apologized through the door, even as her feet stayed firmly planted before it.

“...Princess Aeranys?” the tone of her voice shifted belatedly. There was the sound of rustling sheets and footsteps before the door opened, revealing the haggard face of a grieving girl. For a moment the two young women only regarded each other, as if waiting for the other to make the first move. “Come in,” Lyanna Stark said finally, opening the door wide and leading her inside.

As Aeranys had expected, the quarters were much larger than the chambers that had been allotted to the pair from Dorne, but what surprised her was just how well it was furnished. It looked no less than a lord’s chamber. Had this been demanded of Lord Manwoody? Tucking aside her thoughts on the matter, she followed the dark-haired girl as she passed the rumpled bed in which she’d clearly been lying in, coming to sit at a cushioned bench at the window. For a stretch of time Aeranys waited in patient silence as the Stark girl stared out at the open space in front of her. She did not know her well, but she knew enough to know that the spirited young woman would not have invited her inside if she did not have questions of her own. Just as she expected, it was Lyanna who spoke first, tossing the question out into the air without any preface.

“Were you there?” she asked bluntly.

“Yes,” Aeranys admitted without hesitating--after all, she’d come here prepared for worse. “So he told you?”

The girl nodded, her hands twisting in her lap. “Burned to death by wildfire.” Her throat bobbed harshly as she struggled to swallow. “He--he tried to tell me they were beheaded first, but I knew that couldn’t be it. That would have been too kind for King Aerys,” she remarked bitterly. The Stark girl seemed to think that she had at last reached the horrible truth, but Aeranys knew it was not the whole truth. And yet, looking upon Lyanna’s face, round with youth and eyes rimmed red with tears, the princess could not find it within herself to correct her. Perhaps she was no better than her brother, after all.

“Why didn’t anybody stop him?” Lyanna demanded, anger trembling through her voice. “If I’d been there, I would have--” she trailed off, her jaw tight and her hands clenched even tighter, as if they clasped an invisible sword. Yes, Aeranys understood that emotion better than Lyanna Stark would have presumed. She knew what it was like to think that charging headlong into a problem could somehow fix things, when in reality--or at least, in her father’s court, it did nothing.

Of course, the real answer to Lyanna’s question was a simple one. Anyone who had tried to stop her father would have been tried for treason as well and strung up alongside Rickard Stark to burn. In her father’s paranoid, cruel mind, anyone who resisted was planning to murder him. It didn’t matter if it was a trusted advisor, or even his wife and daughter. However, Aeranys knew that Lyanna wasn’t really asking. Being a clever girl, she likely knew the answer already, deep down. “I’m sorry,” was all she solemnly offered. What else could be said?  There was no comforting word that could bring them back. She knew. All the pretty condolences she had been given when Daeron died--they’d done nothing to fill the gaping hole that had opened wide in her heart. She had lost one brother to illness, but Lyanna had lost a brother and parent all at once, not by the intangible hand of sickness, but by the malicious will of another. The fact that her own father had been the one to murder them only served to make things worse.

“No, it’s...it’s all my fault,” the northern girl choked out, her loathing now directed inwards. Angry tears streamed down her face, but she did not move to dash them away, her fingers restlessly twisting the gold band glimmering on her left hand instead. “I should have known…”


(https://66.media.tumblr.com/ff7695eb2370b4b07122ebb8e2aa72ca/a08ff8b74730b50d-66/s540x810/751fe32bbcb89bb08e479b1eb58537a967ece1ee.gifv)


Sympathy overtook her and Aeranys placed a gentle hand on her arm, giving it a light squeeze. “No, that’s not true,” she murmured. She was still so young in her eyes--the same age as Elaena. How could she have known? She was from the North. Daughter of a Lord Paramount or no, she had not spent much time in the court of King Aerys. She could not have predicted how violent and unreasonable her father could be. Of course, someone who should have known was Rhaegar. Just like Aeranys, he knew what their father was, and yet, he had made his choice. A choice that had put the entire Seven Kingdoms into chaos. “Do you still want to be with him?” she couldn’t help but ask.

“Yes, I do,” Lyanna Stark answered, nodding even as her lip gave a slight tremble. “He sees me as I am.” Her voice evened as she continued to speak, as if she was drawing strength from what Rhaegar meant to her. “Robert--Robert only saw me as a pretty face, but Rhaegar sees the wolf in me, just as I do,” she explained, a stubborn steely determination in her eyes.

“I see,” Aeranys responded. She fell quiet for a moment, but then a question slipped out unbidden. “Is he good to you?”

“Of course,” Lyanna retorted at once, a defiant twang in her voice. “Why would you ask such a thing?”

The fair-haired princess shook her head. “I’m glad,” she remarked, giving the girl an encouraging smile.

The Stark maiden seemed to calm at that, but another sensation roused her to excitement. “He’s kicking,” she whispered, her hands immediately going to her round belly. On her lips a smile had sprouted, the first she had seen on her face since the day they’d arrived.  “Rhaegar says it will be a boy.”

Indeed, her brother had seemed quite adamant on that point. “What do you think?” she inquired, her face and voice carefully neutral.

“I don’t know, but I hope it is,” Lyanna replied, a hand stroking the curve of her stomach lovingly. “Rhaegar wants to name him after a great Targaryen, but I think--” she paused, strong emotions running through her tone once more. “I think I’d like to name him after my brother.”

Aeranys watched the young girl who was beaming down at her unborn child, even as tears splattered onto the stretched cloth of her dress, and her heart ached for her. “Brandon is a lovely name,” she agreed softly.

They sat together on the bench until a maid arrived with a tray laden with food, desperate to coax the expecting mother to eat. Lyanna seemed willing this time, which caused palpable relief to wash over the face of the maid. Excusing herself with one last smile and a gentle word, she rose and left the room, returning to her own chambers. Her husband was absent, as he had left early on in the morning to tend to business with his troops.

Given the fact that she had not been able to spend much time reading during their journey, the young woman decided it would be an excellent chance to do so. It would also serve to distract her from the heaviness she felt after bearing witness to Lyanna Stark's grief--grief that reminded her too much of what she had lost and what was still at stake. Seating herself in one of the chairs with a sigh, she reached into the leather satchel filled with a number of books to find the one she had read last. Unfortunately, her peaceful time was not to last even an hour. 

The sound of boots on stone approaching rapidly was the only warning she received before the door flung open and in strode Rhaegar. He used to be scolded by her septas for doing that, entering her chambers unannounced and uninvited, but there were no septas to cluck and fuss here. “Rhaegar,” she greeted first, calmly closing her book and placing it in her lap as her brother paced the room in an aggravated manner. “What a pleasant surprise.”

He stopped short in his steps, turning to glower at her. “Don’t you start, too,” he spat. “I’ve been mocked enough for one day by that insolent husband of yours.” The scorn was palpable in the way he said the word, the way his eyes blazed, and the princess felt something sink inside her.

“What do you mean?” she dared to venture.

“He dared to go over my head and ordered that we depart tomorrow, and all his men, they--” Rhaegar broke off, fuming as he began to pace again. “Who do they think they are?”

“Please try to understand, Rhaegar,” Aeranys began cautiously, rising to her feet. “Dorne is doing a great deal for us, and the main troops are already at the front lines. You can’t blame them for being worried about their family.” She hesitated, then added, “Aren’t you worried about Mother?”

“You and Arthur both,” the elder sibling muttered under his breath, his expression dark as he shook his head. “Unbelievable.”

“Listen to him, please,” Aeranys implored. “Has he ever led you wrong?” She might not have known what the Dayne knight had said, but she trusted his judgment. Arthur always had a level-headedness about him, which often had a calming effect on Rhaegar--though it seemed that he had failed in his endeavors this time. “And Prince Mors--” she continued, but the sound of the Dornish Prince’s name immediately caused his mood to take a turn for the worse.

“You would take his side,” he hissed, striding over to where she stood to point accusingly at her. “A dishonorable brute over me, your own brother?”

“I’m not trying to take a side,” Aeranys tried to reason, her hands raised beseechingly, but he seemed deaf to her words.

“I see how it is. It’s he who poisoned you, dripping venom into your ear,” he sneered, circling her. “Is that all it takes, Aeranys? A little romp in the marital bed and he’s tamed you? You’d make a dragon rider out of a man so base?”

In shock, she stared up at him, mouth agape. “What, I--” she protested, her delicate hands balling up into fists as her face went from sheet white to red. “How could you say that?” she started, her eyes flashing like a lightning-struck sky. Why was he doing this? Why was he trying to hurt her?

“You shame yourself and your name,” he spat back cruelly, and at that, the emotions churning within her suddenly stilled.

The last time he had said those hateful words to her, deep in the belly of a ship returning from Storm’s End, she’d burst into tears. As strictly as she had been taught to hide her emotions from the prying eyes of the court, within the charmed trio of siblings, she’d never felt the need to put on a pretense. But now, as she stared into Rhaegar’s face, painted with contempt and something she could not quite place, her mother’s familiar countenance welled up to overtake the hurt. The shock, the confusion, the humiliation melted away from her features, depriving him from what he wanted. If he wanted to hurt her, then he would not get the satisfaction. If he wanted her to scream, to cry, to beg, she wouldn’t give him a single word.

Calmly, she turned away from him, plucking her book from the seat of the chair and heading towards the door. She had made it halfway across the room when he spoke again, his words suddenly pleading and sorrowful.

“Don’t go, Aer.”

Don’t go, Aer, Daeron’s weak voice echoed in her ears, and her body froze in place before she had even realized it. As if moved by an invisible hand, she turned, only to be enveloped in a tight embrace by Rhaegar, who clutched at her like a drowning man.

“Don't leave me behind,” he murmured into her hair, his voice forlorn and lonely. “Must I lose you, too?” 

All at once, his strange behavior began to make sense to her. Was this why he’d been so cold? Was he afraid of losing her now that she was married, afraid they would grow farther and farther apart? A pang went through her at the thought. “Never,” she answered against his chest, heartache in her tone as she wrapped her arms about him as well. Daeron’s loss had cut them deep, and it was clear that it had affected them in different ways. He’d always been one to lash out whenever he felt alone, and perhaps he’d meant to push her away before she could drift away on her own. “You’ll always have me, Rhaegar,” she reassured him kindly, her words soaked with all the warmth she could muster. “You are my brother. No matter what happens, we have a bond that cannot be cut.” He let out a shuddering sigh at her words, and her own shoulders loosened in relief as he pulled away to place an affectionate kiss on her forehead. Here was her brother, the Rhaegar she knew. Circumstances had changed, and everything was tangled up into a mess, but still, he was her brother. There was no denying that he had made dire mistakes, and he would have to answer for them--but she would not abandon him. How could she?

She raised her eyes to meet his familiar indigo gaze with a smile, and Rhaegar smiled back at her, satisfaction upon his visage. “Don’t forget that,” he then uttered quietly, something peculiar lurking in the depths of his eyes as he absently toyed with a lock of her hair. Before she could delve further or bring up another matter, however, he straightened to his full height. “I will see you in the evening,” he told her, bidding her farewell, and Aeranys nodded, watching as he left through the door as abruptly as he had entered. The relief she had felt evaporated along with his presence, and though the warmth of his embrace still lingered about her, something within her felt hollow and cold.


(https://66.media.tumblr.com/60ac7550f60783dc98ff6daa4d4b9deb/8f918bc1e4866eac-6c/s540x810/3df1e41870a3912a855bac159c3c2f70d49ea0c5.gifv)
Title: Re: The Golden Sun and the Silver Moon [m]
Post by: asterin on June 19, 2020, 12:23:49 PM
**********************

                             
Unlike the tension-filled event of the previous night, the dinner Aeranys was greeted with was a very different sort. It helped that there was no one else there, and especially fortunate that the two princes weren’t in the same room. Briefly, she wondered if Rhaegar would be upset to see her absent from the dinner table, but she put the thought aside. Surely, he would want to spend the evening with Lyanna, she reasoned to herself as Mors pulled out her chair expectantly.

They’d been in this situation once before, but in the span of a few days, things had changed drastically. The icy silence that had hung over them then was gone, replaced with a steady flow of conversation. Once the subject of family had come up, she had wasted no time to apologize on behalf of her older brother. “My father never let any of us have much say in anything,” she’d explained quietly. “I suppose that only served to make him more stubborn.”

Her husband, in turn, went on to explain the nature of his father, the Ruling Prince of Dorne, and the young woman took careful note of his words. After all, she was supposedly to be taking Mors’ place at his side. Her suspicions that the aging man was fond of tests were confirmed by his son, who had likely spent a lifetime clearly said tests and challenges. Toying with the thought, she turned her gaze to the setting sun filtering through the window. Indeed, she was well aware that the moment she returned to Sunspear, a struggle would start anew. To be wed to their prince was one matter--being accepted was another matter entirely. Her husband would not be the only one marching off to the battlefield come tomorrow.

“I will miss you,” his voice came abruptly, causing her to turn away from the window and meet his gaze, startled. She was not given the time to stammer out any sort of reaction, however, as he went on. “I will look out for your family on your behalf while I’m gone,” he uttered. “Will you look after mine?”

Now that was something with a much easier response. “I will,” Aeranys answered solemnly. “I promise.”

“Thank you,” he murmured. She watched him for a moment longer before her thoughtful gaze flicked back to the sunset.

I will miss you--it was a sentiment that had come wholly unexpected, catching her off guard. After all, they hadn’t even been married a week’s time. In fact, their whole courtship had been nearly non-existent, and whatever existed of it to speak of had been far from smooth or affectionate. Her first instinct was to assume that he had said such a thing because it was expected of him, pulled straight from a pool of perfunctory lines that a dutiful husband might say to his wife before leaving her side--and yet, as mysterious as those golden eyes remained to her, she had not seen falsehood or mere obligation within them. Curious, indeed. Even curiouser was the realization that perhaps, she did not feel so differently about the young man who had become a fixture in her new life. Her eyes wandered again, rising subtly to the prince.

However, it seemed that she hadn’t been subtle enough, for he caught her eye and spoke once more. “If I should fall in battle…” he began, and immediately, her contentedly thoughtful expression went stiff and fell.


(https://66.media.tumblr.com/2fdd52a884d2638518225cac9ac925b5/b50fe79cad882f7c-6e/s540x810/b9f737987bd737007b5d8f664db309588a7abd1f.gifv)


“You shouldn’t say things like that,” she interjected firmly, “Arianne would never forgive you--”

“Just listen,” he interrupted her, a tender plea in his eyes, and reluctantly, Aeranys released the breath that would have made up the remaining words on her tongue. “If I should fall in battle, and you should be forced to take a new man…” She felt her brow crease. This was not what she had been expecting to hear. “Just make sure it is someone worthy of you,” he told her, the words hanging in the air between them. “I promise I won’t be angry. I only ask that you think of me from time to time.”

For a long stretch of time she was quiet, her lilac gaze having dropped to focus on a swirl in the wood of the table they sat at rather than to look into his earnest eyes. She had thought their wedding night to be a disaster. An unconsummated marriage could hardly be called a marriage at all; nothing was set in stone until vows were exchanged and a bedding occurred. To the young woman who had accepted her fate with nothing but the thought of the last hope it might bring her family, the strange limbo she had found herself had been a source of anxiety. She could be put aside on a whim should the need occur, or if Dorne no longer wished to be on the losing side--a clever exit strategy. That fear had softened its hold on her in recent days as their marriage finally seemed to hit a clumsy but certain stride, but still, never had she ever once imagined that the exit strategy had been meant for her, not Dorne. An escape, untouched and unsullied, into a new marriage.

“Did you know I was made aware of a potential betrothal not even three months after my brother died?” she began quietly, still staring at the whorl in the woodwork. “He was from a prominent Volantene family, and he was willing to pay.” There was a hint of wryness in the way her lips pursed before going on. “I hadn’t noticed at the time, but talk of the match must have been going on for weeks. Maybe even months.”

“I was so furious, I remember telling Rhaegar that I’d rather take the Stranger himself as a husband than to be sold to a stranger,” the princess recalled, and if she’d met his gaze, he would have seen a flicker of hurt deep in those eyes at the memory. The Golden Fang had confessed that he’d never wanted a wife in the traditional sense. Similarly, Aeranys had never dreamt of being a beautiful bride. Being one meant being married, and her parents’ marriage had only taught her that it was full of nothing but pain and heartache. After the one person she thought could make her happy as a wife had left her side, she’d held out for five years in her stubborn insistence. Of course, fate had reminded her that there was something she valued even more than that singular wish.

“I chose to marry in order to protect my family,” she told him, her gaze drifting to the scene outside the window briefly. When her eyes met his again, there was an unyielding conviction within them. “I’d do it again, if I had to.” If it was to save them, she would go through the hellish ordeal as many times as it took, even if it would tear her to shreds. There was no doubt in her mind about that matter. “But know this--if you fall in battle, and the war is resolved despite it, I will not be made to take a new husband,” Aeranys went on to declare, her voice as steely as her gaze. “I will tell them--my father, my brother, every suitor if need be--that I was a married woman in every sense. I will not be made a pawn for gain. I would rather stay your widow than to be a bride again.”

Her expression softened then, the fiery determination in her gaze turning to warmth. “But regardless of what happens, I will think of you,” she assured him, her voice as gentle as her smile. “Just as you have thought of me.”

This seemed to put him at peace, and they moved on from talk of death and remarrying into things less demanding. Still, Aeranys could not help but feel that maybe they were just staving off thoughts of the uncertain future lying in wait for them at first light.

When their conversation finally petered out, there was nothing more to do than to get ready for bed. The moon was already shining brightly in the sky, illuminating the small room she bathed within better than the candles. Though it wasn’t particularly late into the night, they had decided that it would be best to retire early, seeing that they would be departing at first light. He already seemed asleep when she returned to the main chamber, but when she approached the large bed they shared he shifted to greet her, holding his arms out towards her. At her hesitation, he beckoned, murmuring a ‘come here.’ Not quite knowing what to think, she slid into bed beside him and into his embrace. Despite the awkwardness she felt, there was no denying how warm he was, or the way her head fit perfectly into the crook of his neck, her hand naturally coming to rest above his beating heart. His fingers soon found hers, weaving them together in the manner in which she’d started to become accustomed to. “Goodnight, wife,” his voice came, quiet and close.

“Goodnight, Mors,” she whispered back. Within a few dozen seconds his breathing slowed--it would seem that her husband was someone gifted with the ability to slip into sleep without much fuss. Aeranys had never been the sort, though perhaps that hadn’t been the fault of some inherited genetics. When night came, she would lie awake, unable to ignore the terrible sounds ringing through the adjacent hallway; even on those blessed nights that were silent and undisturbed, she couldn’t help but stay suspended in tense dread, fearing that the worst was yet to come. And yet, as she lay there in the dark, listening to his slow breathing and the faint rhythm of his heart, she closed her eyes and felt herself being drawn into slumber as if it’d all been a lie--a sleep without a single lion, dragon, or spark of wildfire.
 

*******************



The sky was still relatively dark as the small group stood clustered outside the Tower of Joy, separate from the much more impressive number of soldiers standing at attention. On the lowest point in the horizon, the beginnings of dawn could be seen, signaling that the time for farewells had come for them all.

Lady Lyanna had maintained quite a brave face since they had first gathered, her pale face drawn but her eyes dry. In the end, however, the impending departure of the prince she had thrown everything away for had overwhelmed her. She wept bitterly as Rhaegar wiped her tears away, speaking to her in hushed tones that did not quite carry to where Aeranys stood, watching the scene with the Dornish Prince at her side. If she wanted to say something more than just a ceremonial farewell to him, it would have to be now.

“You made me a promise,” Aeranys spoke up, turning her head to look upon her husband. When his eyes met hers, yellow on lilac, gold on silver, she went on. “Promise me again,” she urged, her tone and expression grave. Once he acquiesced to her request and repeated the words he’d said to her twice before, she nodded, seemingly satisfied as she reached for his hands--the first time she’d sought them out on her own accord. If it embarrassed her, it was hidden from him as her gaze momentarily fell onto their hands. “You said I am your family now,” she reminded him, recalling how he’d held her as he murmured those words. “That makes you my family as well.” Raising her head to fix him with an unflinching gaze once more, she gave the fingers interlaced with her own a tight squeeze, a subtle embrace not so easily sussed out by onlookers. Her voice remained serene as she spoke, but there was a strange emotion stirring in her eyes. “So you must return safely, or you will have broken that promise.”


Title: Re: The Golden Sun and the Silver Moon [m]
Post by: Reigning King on July 04, 2020, 09:22:35 PM
The dawn had yet to give way to the new day to come as they gathered beneath the shadow of the Tower of Joy.  Prince Rhaegar moved to his new wife first, without acknowledging any one else in their small party.  She wept as he held her and Prince Mors of Dorne could not help but watch the exchange in muted curiosity.  Though he had wronged the young Lady Lyanna, the feelings he had for the she-wolf appeared genuine.  In that regard, Mors understood the Dragon Prince.  Yet something uneasy still settled within the base of the Dornishman’s stomach at the sight.  He knew better than most that the line between truth and tact was but a narrow thread, often invisible to the untrained eye.  The woman at his side however, his wife, pulled him from his thoughts with her quiet words. 

“You made me a promise,” she said.  “Promise me again.”

Stepping forward, he squared himself to the pale, Targaryen born woman before him.  “I am yours, and you are mine. I will protect your family and I will keep nothing from you.”  Devotion of marriage, scarcity of secret, respect for loved ones, all were promises he’d made before.  Now, as they set out to uphold the contract upon which all others had been made, the words meant a little more.  “I promise.”

Aeranys reached out to take his hands within hers, and though he might have been surprised by the gesture, he hadn’t the chance to contemplate his own reaction.  “You said I am your family now, that makes you my family as well.” The dark brow that was raised in queer consideration, settled into something softer and more sincere.  “So you must return safely or you will have broken that promise.”

The Golden Fang tugged gently on the hands that held his, pulling her forward before breaking their shared grasp only to wrap his arms around her.  He held her against him as he whispered through the short locks of her silver hair, “I will.” When the arms around her loosened and she stood before him, with his hands upon her shoulders, it seemed as if the moment for goodbyes had passed.  Prince Mors however, had more to say. 

Reaching into his tunics, the Dornish Prince produced the blade he typically kept tucked within his boots.  The remaining stars in the morning sky sparkled against the glistening ivory handle of the blade he had named, Fingers. “You know what it means to draw this blade.  You know the power it holds.” Turning the weapon in his hands and offering the handle to his wife he told her, “take it.”  When she hesitated, looking down at the blade held out before her, he slipped a finger beneath her chin and lifted her face to meet his. 

“If you are to hold my seat, you must also hold my authority, even if it is a burden.”  Still, she seemed unconvinced.  “If I break my promise,” he began, tenderness touching upon his stern voice. “If I don’t return, Dorne will pass to my sister, and this burden will become hers to carry. If that happens, I want you to be the one to give it to Arianne.”

“Please Aeranys,” he pleaded quietly.  “Take it.” At last her hand lifted to meet the blade, curling her gentle, kind fingers around the bone-carved hilt.  She held the knife to her chest, eyes adrift in thought.  When she lifted her gaze and opened her mouth upon an inhaled breath, she was not awarded the opportunity to give voice to her words.

His lips met hers as the light began to touch upon the horizon, casting hazy rays about them as he cupped her face in cradling hands.  She stiffened at first and then settled into his kiss.  When their eyes met once more, the ghost of a smile touched upon his golden gaze.  Still holding her face in his hands he told her, “forgive me, I wanted to be able to do that, at least just once.” The tips of his fingers brushed against her cheeks and then, he was gone. 

(https://data.whicdn.com/images/325191266/original.gif)
(https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/7lWl1TsyxynR4M33OIkexTbR0UCnA5haZhmT0AgHG0wnBAOtRLwqYJK8I0Zo9iaF4HTmstA3AnPIUzJ8PPa16T0qobrEfwxZVlCen7UKICjyOMhIEEijte0u_bvzKrlAvBxSpzJc)

“Don’t die.” Prince Rhaegar Targaryen had heard Ser Arthur say to the Dornish Prince before he had given the order to march.  “If you break your aunt’s heart, I’ll hunt you through the depths of the Seven Hells to make you pay for it.”

“As you say,” the Golden Fang had answered, naught but adoration in his voice.  “And if you die, I’ll hunt you just the same.”

“Then let us both be sure to survive this war.” The Knight of the Kingsguard had embraced the brute, holding him as tenderly as he had ever held either of his flesh and blood sisters. 

Prince Rhaegar has never understood the relationship between Arthur Dayne of Starfall and Mors Martell of Sunspear.  In fact, he had outright denounced it on more than one occasion.  Yet, for whatever reason, Arthur’s love for the Dornish Monster had persisted.  There had been a time when he had found himself jealous over their love.  In fact, it had been Ser Arthur Dayne who had first put forth the Golden Fang as a potential suitor for his beloved little sister.  That feeling has dissipated in the years they had spent side by side in King’s Landing and then Dragonstone thereafter.  Ser Arthur had proven himself to be the Dragon Prince’s dearest and truest friend.   All the same, the indigo-eyed Prince couldn’t help but wonder if he knew Arthur as truly or as deeply as Mors Nymeros Martell. 

Arthur had never made any mention of Elia Martell, though Rhaegar could recall him paying her the extra attention that the ladies of the King’s Court so desperately desired on formal occasions.  However, he spoke of her with the Dornish snake like children swapping inside jokes.  In spite of himself, Rhaegar found himself wondering after Prince Mors Nymeros Martell as they continued their campaign through the Stormlands.  He was a murderer of children, a friend to monsters, a snake in the grass, however he still had the ability to win over the gentle hearts of those around him.  Ser Arthur and even his own darling little sister, included.  Even now, as he watched the Dornish Prince converse with the Stormlanders, representatives from other neighboring villages at his side, they did not look upon him as the deadly serpent Rhaegar knew him to be.   Instead they seemed to respect him, admire him, even.  It was an art form that the Targaryen Prince himself had never quite perfected.  Always the Dragon fought to be set free within him, all hot breath and sharp teeth, moving too close to the surface to be missed completely.   

“On your feet,” Prince Mors chastised gently when the villager before him began to bow and lower himself onto one knee.  “You and your people are with Dorne now, and the Dornish are unbent.”  The man before the Dornish Prince rose to his full height and reached out to take the hand extended to him, shaking firmly. 

“The truest oaths are not sworn upon bent knee.”  That was what Mors had told him.  More than mere words, it would seem. 

“You continue to surprise me, Prince Mors.” Rhaegar told the young Dornishman later that night after their party had set camp.  “After hearing about the way you crushed the Island of Estermont to ashes, I half expected you to put every village we passed to the torch.” He seated himself before the Golden Fang, who did not even deign to meet his gaze.  Instead he focused on the stew that had been prepared for the soldiers, always eating as his men ate and ignoring Prince Rhaegar’s invitations to dine as a proper Lord ought to. 

“What made you choose such a diplomatic strategy?” The Dragon Prince asked.  As he spoke, he took the Dornishman's bowl from him, holding if over the steaming pot and pouring in a second helping.   By the clench of Prince Mors' jaw it was clear he interpreted the gesture as condescending rather than helpful.

“It’s not my strategy.” He answered in his usual unreadable, monotonous voice. 

“Then tell me, who is this secret advisor?” Prince Rhaegar prompted, handing the bowl back to the Dornish Prince.

“Your sister.”

(https://media.giphy.com/media/cnoivOvFRIOeQhFMr9/giphy.gif)
(https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/7lWl1TsyxynR4M33OIkexTbR0UCnA5haZhmT0AgHG0wnBAOtRLwqYJK8I0Zo9iaF4HTmstA3AnPIUzJ8PPa16T0qobrEfwxZVlCen7UKICjyOMhIEEijte0u_bvzKrlAvBxSpzJc)

“We could still do it, you know…” she had told him. 

“Do what?” He had asked, even though they were both well aware that he knew exactly what she was talking about.   Nevertheless, she had indulged him in his little games like she used to when they were young. 

“Leave.” She has answered.  “Like we always talked about when we were children.” As they walked, she had clasped her hands behind her back and swayed on her heels as she strode on, keeping pace with the boy at her side whom she had spent her whole life loving. 

“We could go at night while everyone is asleep, take a ship and disappear across the Narrow Sea.” She watched him, a smile painted across her handsome mouth.  Though she silently willed him to return the gesture, he never did.  “You wouldn’t have to be a Prince, and I wouldn’t  have to be a soldier, we could just be us.”

“Us?” He had repeated, a playfulness touching upon his ever-serious voice. 

“Yes.” She returned with confidence.  “Just us.”

“We’re not children anymore, Natari.” They had walked side by side for a time, the comfortable amicable silence that Natari had become accustomed to.  After a while he added, “though perhaps we still could.”

“You don’t have to go.  It’s not your fight.  It’s not Dorne’s war.” Natari had pleaded. 

“You know I do.” He had replied, and of course, just as he said, Natari had known the words to be true.  “Look after her for me while I’m away.”

“I will,” she had told him.  “You have my word.”

He had held her close, this monstrous boy she so loved.  With a gentle hand upon the side of her face he had uttered a quiet, “thank you.”

She sat upon the rocks that piled high around the Dornish coast.  In her hands she cradled a small collection of pebbles.  One by one she had lobbed them into the waters that crashed against the shoreline beneath her as the sun fell further across the sky.  There had been a time once, before they grew up and everything got more complicated, when she had wasted away the hours plotting her great escape with her friend.   They had chosen which ship they would steal, how much gold and silver to take with them.  They talked into the night about who among their closest friends could be sworn to secrecy, who would have to be fooled or lied to, and who would join them on their secret adventure.  Devran and Arianne had always made the short list in that particular endeavour.  It was hard to say at which point things began to change.  Perhaps it was when he left to foster with the Daynes in Starfall.  Perhaps it was after he had defeated the basilisk in High Hermitage and earned his moniker, or the time she had called him by the infamous title and he had gotten so mad at her she had started crying.  Perhaps it was after he killed the Uller boy… Whenever it had happened, however it had happened, things had changed. 

“Though perhaps we still could…”

Yet, she could still hope.  These days, it seemed like all Dame Natari of House Toyne had left was hope. 

“Dame Natari!” A voice called from the docks.  “Longboats are approaching.  She's back.”

For now, however, she still had promises to keep. 

“Princess Aeranys,” Dame Natari greeted with a polite bow as the Dornish Princess was ushered out of her comfortable cabin and to the docks of Sunspear’s hidden cove. She extended a strong hand, graciously assisting the silk-clad woman onto the narrow but sturdy planks beneath her feet.  “I trust all went well in Kingsgrave.”

They climbed the steps of the docks to the stone pathway that would lead them to the palace.  “I understand that perhaps you are tired from your journey, but there is someone waiting for you in your chambers who would very much like to speak with you.”