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The Golden Sun and the Silver Moon [m]

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Offline asterin

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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…


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.
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Offline Reigning King

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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.”

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.”

« Last Edit: May 29, 2019, 10:18:31 PM by Reigning King »

King Kade - Reigning from the North

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Offline asterin

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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.”
« Last Edit: June 01, 2019, 05:11:29 PM by nevermore girl »
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Offline Reigning King

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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. 

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?”

King Kade - Reigning from the North

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Offline asterin

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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!
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Offline Reigning King

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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. 


King Kade - Reigning from the North

Character limits kill my vibe...

Offline asterin

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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.
« Last Edit: July 09, 2019, 12:40:32 PM by nevermore girl »
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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.

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Offline asterin

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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.”
« Last Edit: July 14, 2019, 07:23:58 AM by nevermore girl »
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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.

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Offline asterin

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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. 
« Last Edit: July 16, 2019, 12:18:36 AM by nevermore girl »
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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.”

“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.” 

King Kade - Reigning from the North

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Offline asterin

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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.
« Last Edit: November 13, 2019, 03:46:33 PM by nevermore girl »
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Offline Reigning King

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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.”

“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. 

King Kade - Reigning from the North

Character limits kill my vibe...

Offline asterin

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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.
« Last Edit: November 14, 2019, 03:26:46 PM by nevermore girl »
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