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The Golden Sun and the Silver Moon [m]

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Offline asterin

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The look on the blond knight’s face was something akin to having been struck in the stomach as the typically stoic Dornish knight raged against him. The slight young woman’s expression, however, did not flinch, her features an inscrutable mask as she gently laid a hand on the furious knight’s arm. Ser Devran was quick to heed her wordless request, moving away and repressing the anger that was hot in his belly. “I apologize for losing my temper in your presence, Princess Aeranys.” Ser Devran addressed her evenly, but there was a saddened frustration in his eyes as he looked at her. “I’m afraid I’ve grown weary of the claim that my Prince has mistreated you.”

“No apology is needed, Ser Devran,” she returned calmly. However, once she turned to the battered knight in front of her she said nothing, only regarding him silently. Apparently seeing his chance, Ser Laenor jumped to defend his actions to his beloved princess.

“Milady, I can explain,” he began hastily, but he was immediately cut off as she raised a hand.

“Barely half a day ago, I commanded you to never speak ill of my husband again,” she began, her voice as quiet as it was stern. “Was that order so unclear that you believed that assaulting him would not go against my wishes?”

“I was only trying to protect you, princess,” he insisted doggedly. “To make sure he would be good to you..”

“What if Prince Mors hadn’t been a skilled fighter?” the Dornish knight behind her spoke up, tossing out the sentiment with the twist of contempt in his voice. “What then?”

The blonde knight only looked confused, but the princess knew exactly what Ser Devran was insinuating. “Had you injured him gravely, or even slain him, what do you think would happen to the Martell-Targaryen alliance?” she asked her knight, her tone still even despite the way her eyes flashed.

“I came here for the sake of that very alliance, Ser Laenor,” she reminded him. “I came here so that I might protect my family and all those that would suffer in a war. I came here, to a court filled with lords and ladies who will send their fathers, brothers, and sons to die in the name of my brother’s war, and I came without a single septa or a lady-in-waiting to be my companion.” Unable to withstand the mounting fire in her piercing gaze, the youngest knight of the Kingsguard averted his eyes, but he would find no respite as the princess continued. “I only had you, Ser Laenor, and all I needed of you was for you to be by my side in this new land. Nothing more.”

“But he was hurting you--” he flared up stubbornly.

“Did I ever tell you that he was hurting me?” Aeranys interrupted, her frustration finally beginning to bleed into her voice. “Did I so much as imply that he was ungallant? Did you see any bruises?”

“No, but--”

“Then why would you come to such a conclusion?” she demanded cuttingly.

“You were in pain, I could tell!” he cried, desperation and emotion moving him to lurch up onto his unsteady feet. “Nobody else might have noticed when you were in pain, but I always have. I’ve watched over you for nearly six years, princess, I know your sadness as if it were my own,” he claimed fervently. “After the wedding you could not even bear to even look me in the eye when you spoke of him!”

A deafening silence filled the room, the three people within standing there without a word uttered. When the quiet was broken, it was by the sound of a sigh escaping the princess’ lips. “You know nothing of me, Ser Laenor,” she said, delivering a crushing blow in the gentlest of voices. Unlike the moments prior, her gaze was as soft as her tone, sympathetic and sad as she looked at the boy who she had ruined. “If you’d known me as well as you claimed, you would’ve known that it wasn’t my husband that pained me in your presence.” The knight seemed to be struck into silence once more, staring at her in disbelief with his wide indigo eyes.

Drawing in a breath, the princess pulled herself to her full height, her composure in place once more as she neatly folded her hands before her silken skirts. “I will ask Prince Mors to spare your life,” she assured the Velayron knight in a measured tone. “I will beg if I have to.” She ignored the miserable look he gave her, no doubt guilt-ridden for the position he had put his lady-liege into. After all, Aeranys knew the next words would be worse than the former. “Should he heed my word, you will be sent back to King’s Landing as soon as a ship is able,” she added, her tone ringing with finality.

As she had expected, Ser Laenor’s misery turned to shock, then to the despair of a horrible realization. “What? Princess, no, please--” he choked out, as if the prospect of being sent away from her was a fate he feared more than death.

“You will not be sent back in disgrace, if I have anything to do with it,” the princess continued unflinchingly. “Your orders were to escort me to Dorne for my wedding, and you have fulfilled your duties admirably. My father will no doubt appreciate having another knight of the Kingsguard to defend him and my mother in the Red Keep.”

“But--but, who will protect you then, milady?” he managed in a small voice, eyes wide and panicked.

“That will be none of your concern now,” she answered simply, already turning away towards the door. She did not look back even as he fell to his knees to beg, to plead, leaving him broken on the floor as the door slammed shut with a resounding sound behind her.


It was only after she had collected herself that she made her way to gain an audience with her husband, knocking upon the large double doors she had emerged from just that morning. Pushing all but her goal out of her tumultuous thoughts, Aeranys stepped carefully into his chambers, her gaze wandering the spacious room before settling on the familiar form of the Dornish prince. He looked exhausted and spent, something in his eyes so similar to that of his faithful knight’s. He, of course, already knew why she was here, and with no small amount of weary resignation, he led her to a pair of chairs and motioned for her to sit.

“I don’t pretend to know what goodness is,” he admitted to her, looking nothing short of drained as he leaned into his chair. “I’ve been told it is a voice that whispers in your ear, an ache in the belly… whatever it is, I don’t have it.” He looked to her, meeting her gaze with his odd yellow one. Unlike the many times prior, there was no calculation in their depths, just a bone-deep weariness. “So tell me, wife, how do you know?” he posed the question to her. “How do you determine who is deserving of your sweet mercy, beyond the selfish desires of your own heart?”

It wasn’t a question she had ever been asked before, and for a moment the Targaryen girl was silent, weighing his words in her mind. “I don’t think you need to know goodness to be merciful, milord,” she began quietly. “Just understanding and the ability to remember.” The lilac gaze that had been averted in thought returned to meet his. “The ability to remember a time when we ourselves were reckless, or foolish,” Aeranys explained, her words growing in gentle conviction as she spoke. “To remember our own mistakes and the wrongs we’ve committed, and just how much forgiveness mattered to us then. To remember how much we’ve learned from past folly and changed accordingly.” She regarded her husband appraisingly, her head tilting slightly as she did so. “Surely, even you have experienced something similar.”

Letting out a sigh of her own, the princess smoothed out her skirts for a contemplative moment before returning to the topic at hand. “You already know what I wish of you.” Her words were plain, for there was no point in broaching the topic in a roundabout way. “I ask that you spare his life, milord, and should you ask a price, I will pay it to the best of my ability,” she added, meeting his eyes solemnly.

While Ser Laenor had not acted on her orders, it did not change the fact that he was her sworn knight; in many ways he was her responsibility, and as his liege it was only right for her to seek his well-being. “I understand that he did something both reckless and foolish,” Aeranys continued levelly, “but if you allow him his life, I will ensure that he will not be present to make another offense.” Contrary to what Ser Laenor might have believed, it was not a fate worse than death. He would never see it her way, but she was not using the measure as a cruel punishment-. In fact, it was perhaps the only thing left she could do for the knight now--send him away to a place where he could not throw his life away for such a pithy thing as her honor.
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Offline Reigning King

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Prince Mors Nymeros Martell sat in the comfortable plush chair within his chambers in extended silence.  The quiet between them lasted longer than usual as he fidgeted with the jeweled rings upon his fingers, foot bouncing at the end of his twitching ankle, one leg crossed over the other.  He watched after the woman before him, his wife, considering her words with great care.  This was what he had asked of her; to teach him how to be good.  Though she seemed reluctant and required encouragement, the lesson had finally begun.  Mors was ever the eager student and took heed of her carefully chosen words.  Naturally, while he tried his best to understand, he failed to thoroughly comprehend what she meant.

“To remember our own mistakes and the wrongs we’ve committed, and just how much forgiveness mattered to us then…  Surely, even you have experienced something similar.”

Certainly, even the Golden Fang made mistakes.  Quite a few, in fact.  Yet, he couldn’t help but wonder; if she knew how hard he was on himself… if she could see the pain, trace the scars, know the stories… if she understood the severity of the laws by which her husband governed himself, would she have spoken differently?  There was much that Prince Mors did not grasp with regards to goodness and mercy, but if he could take the knowledge that Princess Aeranys bequeathed upon him to heart, perhaps he could try.  Understanding.  Remembrance.  In theory, such practices were foreign to the Dornish Prince.  He could try, however.  At the very least, he had to try. 

The fidgeting stopped in tandem with Mors’ silent contemplation.  When his eyes met those of his wife’s once again, a soothing serenity had washed over his features, scrubbing clean the exhaustion that he had been wearing so heavily.  In a calm, even voice he said, “very well.”  Uncrossing his legs Prince Mors leaned forward, coming to the edge of his seat and bringing his elbows to his knees, shortening the negative space between himself and his wife with measured intention. 

“I will spare Ser Laenor, if it pleases you.” As she began to utter her thanks for his most merciful decision, Prince Mors raised a silencing hand to Princess Aeranys. 

“My name.” He uttered cryptically.  At her inquisitive expression, he continued, explaining, “that is my price.  I am your husband, as Prince and Princess of Dorne I will be your only equal in this life, just as you will be mine.”  Inching forward a little bit more, he let playfulness touch upon his expression.  “The least you could do is call me by name.”  She seemed to accept these terms, but as she rose from where she was seated, Mors made no move to join her.  Instead, he uttered a polite, “goodnight Aeranys,” as she passed him. 

There was hesitation at first, as though she were tasting the name upon her tongue before she permitted the spell to pass her lips.  Finally, the words emerged from the quiet and he savoured them as her voice chimed, “goodnight Mors,” and they echoed within him like so many bells. 

Prince Mors stood over a map of Westeros spread out upon the surface of a large table within the Grand Library.  Prince Doran sat with his son at that very table, reviewing the plans of the coming battle with the young man who would lead his forces.  The Ruling Prince of Dorne had spent many long hours with his eldest born child, repeating lessons and forcing the boy to memorize choice strategies.  He had a mind for combat, moving with his battleaxe like a conductor leading a symphony.  That much he had come by naturally.  Even as a child he had been ruled by instinct and action, never trusting his emotions not to betray him.  The lessons in planning and scheme had not come easily, but with time they had come just the same.  Now, even green and untested, he was something to be both feared and revered.  Once he was upon the plains of war, properly blooded and inevitably victorious, he would become something else entirely; something of legend. 

“How do you know they will surrender to you?” Prince Doran asked, moving the marble-carved piece of Sun and Spear from the fortress of Storms’ End.  As Mors had been explaining the machinations of his battle plan, he had prematurely positioned himself as though he had already claimed the ruling seat of the Stormlands. 

“Because senseless fear is evil, but fear with purpose is politics.” Mors replied easily. 

Prince Doran beamed up at his son, brown eyes swimming with the warmth of the morning rays that poured from the windows.  “It is good to see that some of my lessons stick.”

“They all do.” Mors corrected, moving the piece back to where he had initially placed it.  “You just don’t notice when I’m listening.”

“I notice everything, my son.” Prince Doran corrected in return.  Before the two men could spit further morsels of quick wit across the table to one another, they were interrupted by a knock at the door.  Both men turned to see the double doors open up and Princess Aeranys step inside, escorted in typical courtly fashion by Ser Devran.  She curtseyed politely to both men as she entered the vastness of the Grand Library, stepping towards the table as her husband beckoned her forward. 

“To what do we owe this pleasure?” Prince Mors asked his wife pleasantly.  Her face twisted in surprise at his words.  It was obvious that she had assumed her husband to have been the one who summoned her. 

“I thought Princess Aeranys may have some useful insight to share.” Prince Doran said.  “Surely, you must know your brother well.” Gesturing to the map before him he looked expectantly at the girl he had chosen to assist his son rule their Realm.  “What do you think he would do.”

While certainly, it would be beneficial to have an idea of Prince Rhaegar Targaryen’s plans to put down this rebellion, that was not the only reason that the little sister to the man responsible for this war had been brought before the Prince of Dorne.  He was testing her.  As eagerly and earnestly as Prince Doran watched the girl before him, Prince Mors’ expression was even more so intent.  Show him, his golden eyes pleaded silently.  Be useful…

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Offline asterin

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He stood the moment the door creaked open. He’d recognized the voice speaking to the guard outside, he’d recognized it instantly. He had spent another sleepless night drowning in despair and folly, and his ocean eyes were wild and frantic as the slender figure stepped through. “Princess Aeranys,” he blurted out, far too desperate to sound proper. “Milady, I beg you--”

“Please,” she cut him off calmly, her voice barely louder than a whisper, and he stumbled back into silence. The single ounce of solace he could take was that there was no anger, no fire or ice or anything calamitous in her gaze. She was as she had always been, gracious and kind, but even his brief spark of relief was overtaken up by a slow, creeping dread--for as he watched her smile kindly at him, he couldn’t help but feel that this was farewell. “I would ask a favor of you,” she started again, her words still measured and courteous as she extended a carefully packaged parcel towards the knight. “Would you take this to my mother? You are to hand it directly to her, and no one else.”

Her eyes were only sympathetic as he belatedly grasped the bundle he was offered, his throat moving harshly as he swallowed with difficulty. No words would come.

“And this is for you, Ser Laenor.” He blinked at the sight of the smaller parcel she was holding out to him. Manners dictated that he should accept it at once, but everything else within him strained to refuse. Taking it would mean giving into what she had decided. “Please open it when you have departed from Sunspear. I will be attending to duties in another part of Dorne, so I will not be present for your departure.”

“Princess, how could I leave you here, all alone?” he spoke up in a last-ditch attempt, unafraid to beg when it came to his lady liege. “Please…”

“You can, and you will,” Princess Aeranys rebuked, her expression growing solemn. “You must.” She still held the package out to him, the insistence in her eyes unwavering. Defeated, he reluctantly took the parcel into his hand. “Thank you for your loyal service until now,” she murmured as he regarded what he had received. It was no heavier than a thin stack of parchment might be, and yet they weighed him down into murkier depths. There was a stretch of silence before she spoke again, and this time there was something that sounded like a plea in her quiet voice--enough for him to rouse himself momentarily from his wallowing. “Will you look after her for me? Be there in my stead?”

It took him only a moment to realize that she was speaking of her mother. “I swear it,” he told her at once, his only hand going to his heart. “I will guard her like I would my own mother, milady. I won’t fail you in this.”

She smiled then, dawn breaking out over the sea that embraced his childhood home. He’d seen her smile before--the lonely smiles, the bitter ones, the polite ones, the surprised ones, even the rare joyous ones. Throughout the years, he’d tucked each and every one carefully away into his memory like precious secrets, and yet, watching this smile blossom across her lovely face, all at once he couldn’t help but wonder if he had ever really seen her smile until this moment. He’d thought he’d known her so well, his beloved princess, and yet perhaps it was just as she had told him the night prior. Perhaps he had never known her at all. “Thank you,” the princess told him, though to him her grateful words seemed almost redundant in the afterglow of her smile. Still, he clung to the simple sentiment like a drowning man, for he knew the moment had come.

“Farewell, Ser Laenor.”

And then just like that his princess was gone, leaving behind only the memory of her presence and the things she had entrusted to him. He clutched the parcels close to his chest and closed his eyes, attempting to recall the smile she had favored him with only moments ago so that it might remedy the ache in his heart. He tried, then once again, and another time, but no matter how hard he strained to reconstruct it, his imagination failed him each and every time, bringing forth nothing but hollowness.


When she had been summoned to join her husband in the Grand Library, she had at first thought nothing much of it. It was easy to presume that she was due for another session with her stern but attentive tutor, but once she had stepped into the library, she had spotted the Ruling Prince of Dorne also present. Immediately, her thoughts had taken a grim turn, causing herself to brace herself for some sort of ill tidings.

Despite having prepared herself to hear the worst news, apparently it did not make her immune to surprise as it became clear that it hadn’t been the younger Martell prince who had required her presence but the elder. Doubly surprising was the task he posed to her, beckoning towards the map spread out on the table before them.

“Surely, you must know your brother well. What do you think he would do?” Doran Martell inquired, the light in his warm brown eyes far too intent to be mere curiosity. Obediently, she came to stand between them, pushing aside the anxiety stirring in her gut to study the map. This was a test--that much she could’ve guessed at on her own--but the way her husband looked at her, his golden gaze intense as the Dornish sun, why, it made it nothing short of certain.

The first thing she did, lips pursed, was to pluck the marble piece claiming victory over Storm’s End from its triumph. She did not place it anywhere else, however, keeping the miniature carving of the Sun and Spear in her delicate fingers. It was a familiar sensation to her, cradling a piece that was not so unlike a cyvasse piece in her hand as she scanned the field. As children, her brothers had always teased her about how quickly she would play her turn, choosing a strategy or tossing it aside with reckless abandon. She’d been the youngest of the trio, and the most impulsive to boot. As Aeranys grew more accustomed to the game, the young princess had become more thoughtful, though she had never lost her relentless pace. However, now it seemed that even that had left her--despite how soon she had acted, for what seemed like an eternity, she didn’t say or do a thing, as if she herself had turned to marble.

When the young woman finally spoke, it was to deliver words that seemingly admitted defeat to her father-in-law. “I am afraid that I am unfit for this task, milord,” she began, her gaze lowered regretfully. “I too, believed that I knew my brother well, and yet, the brother I knew would have never started this war.”

Just as the air seemed to curdle with heavy disappointment, however, Aeranys lifted her head and continued quietly, turning to the map once more. “But, if I was my brother,” she spoke levelly, placing the marble piece back onto the map and sliding the pieces into a new position, farther out from Storm’s End. “The moment I crossed into the Stormlands, I would focus on the villages.” Placing the large marble piece onto the map at last, she traced the lines of the map, tapping at the marks and symbols that drew out the landscape and the smaller groups of villages and towns.

“The smallfolk too often bear the brunt of hardship when war breaks out,” she began to explain the line of her reasoning. “The Stormlands are fertile enough, but it can’t compare to Highgarden, and the wet climate makes it difficult to stockpile grain--unlike Dorne,” Aeranys added, her eyes flicking briefly to the young Dornish prince in a knowing manner before continuing to address the older man. 

“They will be fine for a time, but not if the war stretches longer. The lords will be the last to starve, but the common people will be the first. So I would show them goodwill beyond what they could expect: their villages would go untouched, fields untorched, their loved ones unharmed.” Though her voice remained calm and composed, her lilac eyes glowed like embers ready to flare into flame as she spoke of a strategy in open rebellion to her father’s cruel legacy. “I would offer them clemency on behalf of the crown, and promise that they will not be judged by the actions of their lords, but by their own actions. Not only that, but those who surrender will also be provided with protection and grain, rationed from the surplus of the granaries in the Crownlands and Dorne.”

She didn’t have to have either of the men to speak up in order to know that it was a strategy far too idealistic to be used. Indeed, perhaps some would be swayed by such pretty words, but many others would not. Why would they, if they believed them to be the enemy? Why would they, if their loyalty was to those they served? However, Aeranys was not quite done.

“Most importantly, I would have each key village choose a person that can be trusted amongst them, to act as witnesses in their stead.” Her gaze was now resting firmly on the map in front of her, her fingers moving small pieces to represent people being drawn out from the respective regions to join the larger main piece. “Once I have them in my company, I would call for a parley with those at Storm’s End to discuss terms of surrender with these witnesses present.” The fair-haired princess moved the pieces to the spot just outside Storm’s End, completely absorbed by her strategy; the familiar relentless pace had now returned to her along with the intense focus she often felt at the height of a cyvasse match. “If the Stormlords surrender to my conditions in order to protect their people, as lords rightfully ought to, then all’s well that ends well. But should they refuse, even in the face of generous conditions, even at the cost of their own people, their betrayal will not go unheard by them.”

No matter how fierce the soldier, they couldn't fight on an empty stomach--no matter how rich the lord, they couldn’t buy food if no one would plow the land. Nobility, as Aeranys had often observed, forgot this fact too easily when caught up in hubris. “They can have their own people turn on them, be starved out, or surrender peacefully,” she uttered quietly, more to herself than to the audience she had nearly forgotten about. Silently, she once more slid the sun and spear piece onto the place she had snatched it from, which seemed to break the spell she was under. Immediately, she leant back from the map as she turned to the Ruling Prince of Dorne, her gaze dropping in the demure fashion her mother had taught her. “But I know very little of battles and war, milords,” she added politely, “I imagine my brother would be much more useful in this endeavor.”

« Last Edit: April 21, 2020, 02:17:28 PM by asterin »
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Prince Doran sat across from Princess Aeranys in silence for a time before his gaze slid over to his son, something turning up the corners of his mouth.  “Mors,” he began in a playful tone.  “Are you smiling?”

By the time the Targaryen-born Princess followed the line of sight mirrored by the Prince of Dorne, Mors was looking away, tucking his feelings behind his mask where they belonged.  When his gaze once more met that of his wife, there was something shy swimming in his golden eyes.  He had not smiled on their wedding day, nor their wedding night.   But today, here in the Grand Library, as she spoke of diplomatic strategy; spoke like a leader, his lips had pulled back over his teeth and spread across his face like the sun rising over the horizon.  Though his father may have been the one to observe the rarity, it’s shadow lingered upon his face, belonging to his wife alone. 

“And where would you start?” Prince Mors asked.  As he spoke he stepped forward, leaning against the table with one hand and reaching for the carved Martell piece upon the map with the other.  Turning to the young woman at his shoulder he took her hand in his and placed the piece within her grasp, curling her fingers around it’s curve.  As their eyes met from across their entangled fingers, Prince Doran broke the silence. 

“Well, I see my counsel is no longer needed.” The aging man said as he looked to the man at his side.  “Aero,” he beckoned.  At once the lumbering man, decorated as such yet never formally Knighted, stepped forward and offered the Prince of Dorne his arm as he began guiding his liege to standing. 

“Father, if it pleases you…” Mors began, but his father was waving a silencing hand as he took his cane into his knotted grip. 

“I need to rest.” Prince Doran said, explaining away his quick flight from the Grand Library.  The withered Ruling Prince bid polite farewells to his firstborn son and new daughter as he crossed the Library to the large doors that would take him into the hallways beyond. 

“Where were we?” Came Princess Aeranys’ soft voice, fluttering through the doors as they swung closed. 

“You were just about to tell me your brilliant plan, Aeranys.” Mors encouraged. 

Aero Hotah meandered down the hall at a leisurely pace, keeping step with the man who limped along beside him.  Prince Doran was gentle, but he had always been proud.  His chosen Guard knew to only help him along when he stumbled.  These days, it didn’t take too many steps along the stone-walled corridor before he did just that.  Reaching out to catch himself, he found Aero’s strong arm.  He muttered quiet thanks as he always did, but still there was shame lurking behind his mask of complacency. 

“It seems Mors is rather taken with his new wife.” The Captain of the Dornish Prince’s personal Guard offered, quick distraction a transparent though well-meaning act of charity.

“In time, perhaps.” Prince Doran answered after catching his breath.  “My son is not an easy man to love.”

“Nor are you.” Aero said in return before adding, “if it’s not too bold of me to say, my Prince.”

“If it were you wouldn’t have said it.” The Ruling Prince of Dorne pointed out. 

“I suppose you aren’t wrong.” The decorated guard observed. 

“Nor are you.” Prince Doran replied, a gentle smile on his tired lips.

The morning sun came upon the Palace of Sunspear too quickly.  The Martell family gathered at the docks and soldiers crossed the wooden planks to board the ships that would depart for war.  Princess Aeranys stood pleasant and patient amongst the rest, her enigma of a husband curiously absent from her side.  The Red Viper bid his farewells to his daughters, his Paramour and his siblings.  He did not board the waiting ship but instead found his place amongst the Manwoody soldiers, who lingered at the edge of the docks.  He barked orders to the men and women who wore the gold and black of their liege House.  They were waiting for their commander, for Prince Mors, the Golden Fang. 
He arrived belatedly, headed down the docks at a leisurely pace with Natari of House Toyne at his side.  They appeared to be in the midst of a serious conversation, but those observing the interaction only caught the final pieces at the tail-end of their dialogue. 

“You have my word…” Dame Natari said.  Prince Mors pulled her in for a quick, tight embrace before finding her brown eyes once more and placing a gentle hand upon the side of her handsome face. 

“Thank you,” he uttered quietly.

He started with his cousins, crouching low to pull all three girls into a shared huddle, whispering quiet instructions to them in hushed tones before pulling away and bequeathing each with a final farewell.  He reminded brave and bold Obara to be smart.  He told clever and cunning Nymeria to be kind.  Each he left with a kiss upon the forehead.  When he lowered himself onto one knee before the blond-haired Tyene, he reached within his tuncis and produced the large brass key that hung around his neck.  Lifting it over his head he set the heavy chain into his cousin’s small hand.  Her round, blue gaze flicked briefly to Princess Aeranys before focusing once more on her eldest cousin. 

“When?” She asked cryptically. 

“When the time is right.” Mors answered.

“How will I know?” She pressed. 

“You’ll know.” He assured her.  With that, little Tyene Sand nodded her blond head dutifully and brought the chain over her head, letting the key at its end rest against her chest like it did her cousin’s.  As she did so, Mors left her with a kiss on the forehead just as he had for her sisters. 

Righting himself once more, Prince Mors Martell turned to face his father and aunt who stood side by side with proud smiles upon their similarly featured faces.  As he parted his lips to offer them kind words of leave, Arianne pushed her way past them and threw herself into her brother’s arms.  He caught her and held her tight against her chest, letting a fleeting moment of feeling pass unseen from within the tangle of her raven curls.  When finally she loosened her grip around his neck for long enough to meet his gaze once more, she wore a stern expression on her pretty face.  By contrast, Mors’ expression was light and brimming with love.  Arianne and Mors had always been close.  From the moment she was born the only face he cared to see was hers.  From the day he had left for Starfall the only news he cared to hear was how his little sister fared growing too quickly into womanhood.  He loved her more than he did his brothers, his cousins, even his father. 

“Come back to me.” Arianne demanded pointedly. 

“I’ll do my best.” Mors answered teasingly. 

“Promise me!  Promise you’ll come back.” She insisted. 

“I already told you,” Prince Mors reminded his little sister as he returned her feet to the wooden planks beneath them and brushed her curls from her hair.  “I’ll never leave you alone in this world.” He assured her, patient in spite of the way that she clung to him like a child.  “I promise.”

The Golden Fang kissed his brothers, wiping away Trystane’s tears, and gave parting words to his father and Aunt Elia before finally coming to his wife’s side.  Offering her his arm they started not towards the flag ships that grew full with soldiers, but instead the steps that would carry them to the lower docks.  They descended the steps past the stone dam that made up the river lock, the vein flowing from the sea carrying small long boats down a narrow channel that led through a small, hidden opening within the rocky coastline.  If you did not know where to look, you would not be able to find it. 

Mors gave a nod to his uncle, spurring the Red Viper into action.  “Load the boats!” He called as he started down the length of the precariously positioned planks. 

“Wait here.” The Dornish Prince instructed his bride, pulling his arm from where her hand was wrapped around it and moving to a cluster of individuals who differed from the rest.  They donned not armour, but instead lightweight tunics and patchwork breeches rolled up to the knee, most without shoes but instead bare feet.  Their belts were not equipped with weapons, but instead rope and various hooks.  Hands held not sword or spear, but instead push poles and oars.  Some were paler, while others had the leathery-weather-worn skin of a sea-faring nature.  Though they all had the Dornish look, there was something distinctly different about their broad, flat features.  If that wasn’t enough, when the Golden Fang approached them, he spoke to them in a language that was thought long lost to the Known World.  They exchanged only a few passing words before he beckoned his bride forth.

“Aeranys, this is Boro and Ralla, of the Rhoynar.  They keep the Dornish Causeway.”  The man and woman who stood before Dorne’s newest daughter were the leaders of their particular faction of Dornish ethnicity.  They kept the history and tradition of their people alive, a secret Lord and Lady each in their own right.  “This is my wife, Princess Aeranys Martell.” He offered, gesturing to the woman at his side in polite introduction.  The pair each placed their fist over their heart and thumped twice, a gesture akin to a bow by Westerosi standards.

“Your chariot awaits, nephew!” Prince Oberyn called, directing the attention of the newly wedded pair to a long boat more luxurious than the others, fixed with a humble cabin.  Like the others, this vessel had no sails, for where they ventured, there would be no wind to carry them forth. 

“Come,” Prince Mors said, taking his wife’s hand and guiding her along the narrow planks to the shallow boat that would carry them beneath Dorne to the Tower of Joy; to Rhaegar Targaryen. 

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Offline asterin

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The afternoon sun filtered through the windows, filling the small room with a welcome glow. It illuminated the parchment she diligently scribbled onto, outlining a number of books that would pertain to the subjects her husband had thought important. Such a tome was already in her hand, serving as a makeshift desk in a room which did not have one. There was a vanity in the other corner, which might have been a fair choice as a desk, if it were not covered with beautiful jars of oils and pigment, kept neat and free of any dust; though it had been some time since Lady Mellario had left Dorne, her chambers looked as if she had only just stepped out. Even though the rooms had been given to her for the time being, it could only be assumed that it was a temporary provision.

Still, she liked the back room within the chambers, and looking about, it would seem that Lady Mellario had felt similarly--it was not particularly grand, but it was elegantly decorated with a touch that was different, even from the Dornish furnishings. Lady Mellario had also been a bride who had hailed from far-off lands, from a place even farther than where Aeranys had come from. Unlike Aeranys, however, it was known that the foreign lady and the Prince of Dorne had married for love, not for politics--and yet, their marriage had not lasted. It was ironic, then, that her own parents who had married out of nothing but duty, were still shackled tightly together. Lady Mellario had left, but the young woman knew that her mother, no matter how unhappy, would not even think of such a thing, even if she were handed the key. She was a dutiful queen above all else, after all.

Reining in her wandering thoughts once more, the princess turned back to her list. What she really ought to have been doing was picking which gowns she would like to take upon their rapidly approaching excursion, but Aeranys failed to find the task appealing. Instead, she wondered how many books she might be able to take along with her, given that the sailing would be smooth enough for her to read. Of course, Aeranys knew that wardrobe was important, and the silent politics of colors and design weren’t to be thought trivial, but she was not going to be presented to a court or some stranger. It would be her brother she would see again, her brother, who had seen her in every form, from muddied trousers and sleepy-eyed nightgowns to the extravagant ceremonial dresses. What did it matter which colors she wore?

Her busy quill came to a sudden halt as she heard the sound of the main doors open in the other room. The sound of light footsteps could be heard--likely servants, here to start packing her things for the trip. Aeranys felt a prick of regret. Perhaps she really should have chosen her gowns first; it certainly would have made things easier for them. She hurried to rise from the chair she had placed beside the wide windows, but just as she placed the book and parchment down, something brought her to a stop.

“...don’t understand why we have to change the sheets today. She’ll be gone tomorrow, what’s the use?”

“You know how it is. Only the best for the new princess of Dorne.”

They were chambermaids, she realized, here to tidy. For a moment she stood there, unsure what to do. Announcing her presence at this point would be unfortunate, but…

“So it seems. Isn’t that just strange?” the first girl continued, oblivious to the fair-haired princess’ presence in the back room.

“I know. On their wedding day they looked as stiff as corpses in the grave, and now the rumor is that Prince Mors makes every allowance for her, even in the council room,” the other remarked, distaste running through her pretty voice.

It was clear now that there wouldn’t be any way out of this situation. Aeranys slowly lowered herself back into her seat, drawing the tome and parchment back onto her knees. If they were only here for the sheets, then hopefully they would not have any reason to venture back towards where she was. Knowing that a quill would make noise, she cautiously opened the thick book to the page she had left off on. The princess was no stranger to gossip, nor did she have the desire to burst in on the girls and punish them for doing so. If every little insult and word of gossip were to be heeded, there wouldn’t be a moment in her day to actually tend to the important things. Still, as she tried to focus on the text, their voices crept through the silken curtains along with the breeze, dripping into her ear.

“As I said, strange. But maybe that isn’t so strange, if you take the other rumor into account.”

“What? What rumor?” the voice asked eagerly, hungry for a scrap of scandal.

“You haven’t heard, Tamira?” The first girl lowered her voice into a conspiratorial whisper. “They say she’s a sorceress. She practices blood magic,”

“No...that bland little thing?” Tamira remarked in gleeful disbelief, and Aeranys also found herself mystified. Blood magic? Where in the world had that come from?

“It’s true, I heard it from Nyra!” the other defended, her words louder now. “She says that she has cuts on her arms. In fact, I’ve heard she keeps a dagger with a dragon on the hilt on her person at all times. Just a prick and a murmured spell, and the deed is done.”

“No…” her companion echoed once more. “You don’t think…?” Her question trailed off, laden with suggestion. The other maiden caught on immediately. 

“Exactly. The fear is that she’s bewitched him into doing her bidding. We’re heading into this meaningless war for the Targaryens, after all. You better watch your paramour, Tamira. Who knows who she’ll bewitch when the prince is off to war?”

“Actually, you know what, it makes sense. Haven’t you heard about that knight of hers?” Tamira began, and the princess felt her heart twist. Closing her eyes, she braced herself for what would come next, but before anything malicious could be spewed forth, their words suddenly erupted into frightened screams. Eyes wide, Aeranys bolted up from her chair, but it seemed that something else had caught their attention.

“Cursed creature!” one of them cried spitefully, though she did not sound harmed.

“Dalia, do you think she’s listening through that...thing?” Tamira spoke, her voice thin with creeping fear.

“Shh!” her friend hissed, sharply shushing the other into silence. “Come on, I don’t want to stay here with that,” Dalia urged, and with a flurry of rustling cloth and hurried footsteps, the girls left the chambers with a resounding slam of the doors.

Aeranys let out a breath she hadn’t been aware she’d been holding. Carefully, she picked her way back out to the main chamber. There, sitting on the ledge of the open window, was the great black bird, the hontes valdrizes. It cooed at the sight of her and the young woman found herself smiling, approaching the fearsome creature. Reaching out, she gently stroked the glossy feathers about its head and neck as if it were a harmless chick. “Thank you,” she murmured quietly. It still seemed silly to think it, but the bird had the most uncanny timing, appearing when she felt in need of a friend; then again, perhaps it was to be expected; that had been what she had proposed to the creature.

If that was the case, it wouldn’t do to keep thinking of it as merely ‘the bird’ in her mind, she thought. For a moment she studied him, her lips pursed in thought. A dragon bird, black and red and fierce. She shook her head with a wry smile, and the bird watched her closely, a curious spark in those pale eyes. Of course. Had there ever been a name more fitting? “Balerion,” she offered, letting the name roll off of her tongue syllable by syllable. “How does that sound to you? Balerion?” When the vulture nudged its head against her palm contentedly and let out another soft noise, the small smile on her face grew into one of delight--rumors forgotten, at least for the moment.


She watched her husband say farewell to his family, the family he would be leaving behind as he went off to war--her brother’s war. He did not forget to give a special goodbye to any of the little ones flocking about him--his little brothers, his young cousins. The most touching farewell to those in attendance, however, would be his goodbye with his only sister as she clung to him fiercely. She did not yet know what it was like to send a brother off to war. Rhaegar had been kept away from the conflict with the Darklyns, and he had been far from her side by the time men came calling for his head; as for Daeron--he had never been well enough to become a soldier. Still, she knew what it was like to fear for the life of a brother, and furthermore, she knew what it was like to be helpless to keep death at bay. She could only hope that Arianne would not have to come to understand what that felt like.

Farewells soon came to an end and the men promptly began to prepare for departure. When the Dornish prince came to her side and led her away, however, it was not towards the ship she had assumed they would be boarding. Instead, she was taken down a path she had not yet seen, small and not at all resembling a major dock belonging to Sunspear. The people Prince Mors Martell went to speak with also did not look like the sailors above, both in attire and some way that Aeranys could not quite place but felt all the same. With pale eyes she watched them intently, straining to make out the words they exchanged, but what sounds she did manage to overhear, she couldn’t comprehend. The conversation was a brief one, however, and soon she was called forth for a proper introduction.

“Aeranys, this is Boro and Ralla, of the Rhoynar. They keep the Dornish Causeway,” he told her as she took in the sight of the pair before her. Though they weren’t decked out in jewels or gold or lavish finery, the way they carried themselves spoke to their importance. Turning to them, the dark haired prince continued the introduction. “This is my wife, Princess Aeranys Martell.”

Martell. Aeranys Martell. The unfamiliar ring of the name caused her to blink, but her reaction was tucked away swiftly as the man and woman greeted her. The princess sank into a greeting of her own, a demure curtsy. “It is an honor to meet you,” she uttered graciously, but the time for pleasantries was over once Oberyn Martell called to them, signaling that they were ready to leave. Following his gesturing hand, Aeranys spotted the curious vessel, a boat with no sails. Silently puzzling over the mystery of what was happening, she stepped down the precarious planks with her husband’s assistance.

Though there was a cabin in the middle of the longboat, no one tried to usher her away as they pushed off from the dock. Aeranys stood in quiet observation as they began their journey--not into the open ocean water, but into the narrow crevice that was before them. As the boat ventured further, however, her studious gaze turned to awe. Books forgotten, she watched the strange scenery as they passed by--it was not a mere tunnel they were traversing through. Despite the entrance having been so insignificant and narrow, once they were inside it steadily widened out until it was cavernous. It stretched on and on, and it was not a lifeless hall of stone. On the far side, she could see structures carved into the rock--buildings, villages, people, lit by glowing lanterns.

When she finally turned to seek out the prince, her expression was once of comprehension. “Is this why the members of the council were so against me seeing my brother?” she asked him, even though the answer was already plain to her. Aeranys knew Dorne. Not in the way the Dornish did, of course, and her knowledge could not hold a candle to what Mors Martell knew--but even without the tutoring she’d had as a child, she had done her utmost to etch the details of the map of the region into her mind under the eye of her newfound tutor. No map, no text about Dorne she had consumed so far had mentioned something like this.

It was a secret.

Even if it had been nothing but a dusty tunnel of rock, the usefulness of such a route was not difficult to understand. Like the many secret passageways in the Red Keep, with some resourcefulness, it could prove to be a powerful tool, used for escape, stealth, or even infiltration. It was only to be expected that the Dornish nobles would have wanted to keep her in the dark. Despite this, the Martell prince had tried to inform her of it practically from the start. No, it wasn’t just that. In his own way, he had tried to give her the reins to power and authority at each turn, something she had struggled to recognize.

“Thank you,” she started, the simple words uttered as she held his gaze. Then, as if recalling his request, there was a brief pause before she added, “Mors.” It was still not an easy feat for the princess, and her eyes drifted from his and out to the dark waters around them. After a moment of silent contemplation, she spoke again. “I respect and love my mother more than anyone in the world,” she told him quietly, a faraway look on her visage. “She taught me everything she knew--how to be a wife, how to survive being one.” If there was a hint of wryness or bitterness at the sentiment, it was gone when she turned to catch his eye once more. “But you don’t want a wife. Or at least, not a subservient one,” Aeranys remarked of him, her brows lifting ever-so-slightly.

Turning completely and squaring herself to her husband, she found the words she wanted to say. “I can’t go back to being the girl I used to be any more than I can turn back the flow of time,” she said, her voice frank. “It can’t be done. But,” Aeranys paused for a breath, the eyes probing his expression glinting like silver in the gloom. “If it is an equal you desire, someone to help you protect the lives that you bear on your shoulders--then I will try,” she declared, the ring of a promise in her echoed words.

“At the very least, I will try.”
« Last Edit: June 03, 2020, 07:28:07 PM by asterin »
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Mors stood next to his wife on the deck of their humble longboat, watching her as she watched the scenery that unfolded around her.  Lanterns illuminated the quarters of those who had chosen to live secret and safe within the shadows of the Dornish Causeway.  Each tiny crevice, each intricate carving, each smiling face captured her attention as she surveyed the horizon cut from stone before them.  With his hands clasped neatly behind his back he looked on at his wife, admiring her from afar as she took in the wonder to which Mors himself had played witness many times. 

“Is this why the members of the council were so against me seeing my brother?” she asked.

“Yes.” He answered easily.  Princess Aeranys seemed to consider this for a moment before turning to her husband once more. 

“Thank you… Mors,” at the sound of his name falling from her hesitant lips, something warm drifted over his serious features and settled into his bones, his usual mask of calm contentment softening into something more sincere.  He did not fill the silence with words, but instead took a step closer to her, looking out at the passing stone work when she did. 

“I respect and love my mother more than anyone in the world,” she continued on and Mors uttered not a single word for fear of breaking the spell.  “She taught me everything she knew--how to be a wife, how to survive being one.  But you don’t want a wife. Or at least, not a subservient one.”  When she turned to him, her brows lifted in compliment to her meaningful gaze, she found him looking back at her wearing a similar expression.  Words remaining unspoken, Mors only tilted his head to the side in silent encouragement.  When she squared herself fully, facing him directly, he matched her steps to do the same. 

“I can’t go back to being the girl I used to be… but, if it is an equal you desire, someone to help you protect the lives that you bear on your shoulders--then I will try,” she spoke the words as though they were a solemn vow.  “At the very least, I will try.”

“As you say.”  As he uttered the words, he reached out to take her hands within his own.  Though they had entered their marriage in disagreement and icy tension, there was something blooming between them now that hadn’t been there before.  Princess Aeranys would know better than anyone, that there were worse things a husband could demand of his wife than mutual respect.  It could either be the enduring foundation of their budding relationship, or it could be the nourishing soil from which something more magnificent might yet grow.  Only time would tell. 

“You’re right.” Prince Mors told her after a moment, looking down at their hands as he spoke.  “I never wanted a wife, at least not in the traditional sense.”  As the pad of his thumb stroked the back of her pale hand he looked up, once more permitting his strangely coloured eyes to collide with hers.  “I don’t want to rule alone.  I’m not even so sure that I want to rule at all.  What I want is someone to walk with me through this life; not behind me, but beside me.”

“You say that the girl I once knew is gone, but I can still see her.  The dragon is within you, hiding behind lace and silk.”  He squeezed her hands a little tighter, pulling her closer to him.  “I hope one day, I get to meet her.  I hope one day, I can be worthy of her love.”  Bowing forward, he brought his lips to her hands, pressing a kiss against the cool, smooth skin that lay within his grasp. 

Their marriage would not be like the sort written in the songs.  Perhaps, if they were willing to try, it might be something even greater.  Like the dragons of Old Valyria or the Ten Thousand Ships of Ny Sar, their story would not be a song, but instead legend.   

It was hard to separate the days from the nights within the caverns of the Dornish Causeway.  Only the people of the Rhoynar who lived within its walls, handing them fruits and sweet meats from the waters edge along their journey, provided any indication of the passing of time.  It was of a late hour when Prince Mors found himself alone on the deck of the longboat.  They had no oars upon their humble vessel but instead were tethered to the boats ahead who rowed rhythmically to the beat of a steady drum.   

He found a comfortable place in the shallowest part of the boat and sat himself upon her worn planks.  As the Golden Fang crossed his legs beneath him he let one arm dangle over the edge of the chariot that carried them through the Causeway, his fingertips dipped in the waters of the river, trailing along the side of the longboat.  With his other hand, he touched upon the large fang that sat beneath his tunics on a leather strap against his chest.  Closing his eyes he listened to the pounding drums, keeping the pace of the men and women before them and behind them.  It was hard to say for how long Prince Mors sat in silence before at long last he felt something brush against his fingers beneath the surface of the water.

“There you are,” he whispered into the darkness.  “I could feel you following me.”  Something moved deep within the river of the Dornish Causeway.  Powerful muscle and rippling sinew twitched beneath the scales that slipped smoothly across his delicate touch. 

“You should go back,” he whispered to the black waters that reflected only the sparsely placed, dimly lit lanterns.  “Tyene will be wondering where you are…”


Turning at the sound, Prince Mors spotted his wife in the gloom of the low-light.  She looked as though she expected him to grow cross, catching her creeping up as he whispered to himself in the loneliness of the evening hours.  Instead he uncurled his fingers from the fastened fang around his neck and offered his hand to her.  As he did, he pulled his other hand from the water, dragging wet fingers through his close-cropped, raven locks.   

“Come here, Aeranys.”  He beckoned. 

His wife came to him when she was called, gathering her skirts beneath her as she sat upon the deck beside him, taking his hand.  As he intertwined his fingers with hers he told her, “you’re just in time.” Leaning back, he stretched his legs out and let her fall beside him so that they both lay upon their backs.  “It’ll be any minute now.” He said softly as they watched the dark stone above them pass overhead. 

They waited in silence before at last the ceiling of the cave opened up into a shimmering sky filled with sparkling coloured stars.  They weren’t stars, of course, but rather gems.  The precious stones were a dazzling sight, gathered in clusters that resembled constellations.  He listened to the inhale of delight and the exhale of wonder from the woman at his side as they passed beneath the resplendency.  The corners of his mouth twitched as she squeezed his hand tighter, settling into stillness as she made herself comfortable to behold the majesty of Dorne’s best kept secret. 

“The Lannisters are known as the richest House in Westeros.  Their mines are filled with the gold that funds your father’s court.” Prince Mors explained to his wife as they lay side by side beneath sparkling reflection of the light of the lanterns.  “No one knows about this place except for the people of Dorne.  The Rhoynish guard our secret and protect our wealth.  In exchange we keep their culture, their language, their traditions…”

If the moment they had shared in the Grand Library marked the true beginning of their connection as man and wife, then this moment now was the wedding night they should have been bestowed by destiny.  They lay together, enjoying their shared tranquility for a time before Mors broke the silence once more saying, “I wouldn’t have let them, you know.”

“Keep you from seeing your brother, that is.” He added when she turned her head to the side to face him, the silent inquiry heavy between them.  “Do you think he will approve of me?” He asked her playfully.  “I’m not so sure that I would if I were in his position.”

“I suppose I’ll just have to try to win him over...”

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“Do you think he will approve of me?” the Dornish Prince remarked of her brother, something teasing in the curve of his lips. “I’m not so sure that I would if I were in his position.” Unable to give an answer, Aeranys could only utter a quiet laugh. “I suppose I’ll just have to try to win him over,” he concluded.

“Then I’ll help,” the princess assured him, letting a small smile ghost over her lips. “He is my brother, after all.” As they turned their gazes back up to the gem-studded darkness above, they drifted into a comfortable silence, so very unlike the kind they had too often shared. On this strange causeway, the tension that had followed them about like a dark cloud from the beginning of their courtship felt as if it had completely dissipated.

Her thoughts wandered back to the words they had last exchanged. Once, she would’ve been able to say with great confidence that she knew her brother, knew him well enough to tell her new husband exactly what Rhaegar’s perception of him would be--but the words did not come forth so easily now. He was her brother and she loved him, that much would never change, but it was clear that other things had. Then again, perhaps Rhaegar wasn’t the only one who’d changed. Maybe Rhaegar would think that she too had changed in ways she wasn’t even aware of yet.

When they met again, could things go back to the way things had been before? If they could just sit and talk aimlessly about hopes and fears and dreams as they once had, if he could answer the questions bubbling deep within her, would she be able to say she knew her brother through and through again? She dearly hoped so. He was the only brother she had left--likely the only sibling she would ever have by blood. Surely, there was nothing grievous enough to come between them.

Despite the mixture of anxiety and anticipation that brewed within her at the thought of reuniting with Rhaegar, Aeranys couldn’t help but find comfort in the feeling of her husband’s hand curled about her own. The same calm followed her when she retired to bed, lulling her into a peaceful sleep she hadn’t had in months, dreamless and deep.


Time seemed to run strangely on the causeway. Without the blazing sun rising and dipping in the sky, it was difficult to tell what hour it was in the day, or whether night had already passed. When Aeranys roused herself and made her way back onto the deck, it barely looked as if any time had passed since she had retired to the cabin--and yet, it was not long afterward that a cry went up to prepare to dock.

Blinking, she watched the hurried movements of the skilled sailors, wondering if they were to stop at a village to resupply and allow the men and women working the oars to rest. The thought that they might have reached the end of their journey did not even occur to her until they pulled out into the blinding sunlight and she was escorted off of the longboat and led towards a small cluster of people standing by a group of….creatures. They would be making the remainder of the journey on the backs of these strange animals.

They were tall with gangly legs, light brown in pelt. She had seen a sketch of them in a book before, and yet it couldn’t have prepared her for the sight of them in real life. As the young man by her side spoke to the man leading the camels to them, she noticed a woman tightening the saddles on their backs. At her side was a young girl no older than ten, olive-skinned with a rough braid wound tightly down her back, who was staring at her with wide brown eyes. Aeranys gave her a smile in silent response, which seemed to embolden the girl enough for her to stray from her mother and step up to the foreign princess.

“I’ve never seen anyone that looks like you,” the girl remarked in place of a greeting, her gaze roving from her silvery hair to her lilac eyes.

“Is that so?” the young woman returned kindly, her quiet smile still in place. Turning, she gestured towards the camels. “Well, I’ve never seen animals like these.”

The girl’s eyes went wide, surprise sparkling within them. “You’ve never seen a camel?”


“So you’ve never ridden one?” she immediately questioned with an amused laugh. The very idea seemed unimaginable to her, the girl who had likely learned to ride before she could quite run.

“Never. This will be my first time,” Aeranys confirmed, her own lips spreading into a broad smile.

“There’s nothing to worry about, m’lady,” her mother reassured her, stepping up to place a hand on her daughter’s shoulder. “Our beasts are well-trained, and the journey should take no more than an hour.”

“You have my thanks,” the princess replied cordially, to which the older woman gave her a respectful nod and herded her young daughter away, directing her to check the straps on the saddles. Watching them, Aeranys found herself musing on the information she had just been given. No less than an hour? Had they been on the causeway much longer than she had thought? Or…

The sound of her name being called shook her out of her thoughts. It was time to set off, and Aeranys allowed herself to be helped onto her strange steed. The saddle was much higher than that of a horse, and the gait was not as smooth, she noted to herself--but the key, as she had learned so many years ago, was to relax and move with the animal. Of course, that was easier said than done, but luckily, it did not take long for the stiffness in her shoulders to loosen as she grew used to the movement of the camel, which allowed her the presence of mind to look about at her surroundings.

The Red Mountains loomed on the horizon, rusty-red against the clear sky. She had seen part of the range before, seeing as it stretched up into the Stormlands and even the Reach, but she had never seen it from this side. As they drew closer to their destination, a small point could be seen in the distance--the tower where her brother was, she was told, and her pulse quickened.

It was not long after that they were met with a small group of riders coming towards them from the direction of the tower. “Mors!” she heard the familiar voice call out as the riders halted, and the figure riding at the head pulled off his helm to reveal the handsome face of Arthur Dayne. Her gaze immediately shot to the riders around him, searching for another familiar face. Rhaegar--where was Rhaegar? Unfortunately, her search proved futile, and she turned to watch Mors and Arthur greet each other warmly, exchanging words that she could not quite catch. The Dayne knight came to her next, smiling brightly as he took her hand and kissed it. “Aeranys,” he greeted her, his voice lilting gently in the way it always did with her name.

“Arthur,” she returned with equal affection, squeezing his hand tightly. “I am so happy to see you here.” Arthur was a skilled swordsman nearly without par, but that wasn’t the only reason she was glad to have him by her brother’s side. After all, even from youth, Arthur had been one of very few people able to stir Rhaegar from his moods or a conviction of his.

“And I, you. Though I imagine Rhaegar will be happier,” the knight added with a knowing smile. “Come, he’s waiting.”

The rest of the journey felt like mere seconds to her, and soon--although not soon enough--the doors before them opened, and there, in the middle of the room, stood Rhaegar. He looked almost exactly as she remembered him, and the moment her eyes fell on his face she forgot all the anxiousness she’d been feeling, even the doubts creeping in the corners of her heart. For the moment, none of it mattered--her brother was here, her brother was safe. In a place a long, long way from home, here was a piece of home.

“Rhaegar,” she breathed, a smile breaking like dawn over her face as her hand slipped from the crook of her husband’s arm. Striding forward, she reached out to embrace him, but he stopped her short before she could with a hand on her forearm. Aeranys searched her brother’s face in confusion, but his eyes were cool and reserved when they passed over her. Immediately, something icy spread through her, freezing her stiff. She knew that look. But...why?

“Little sister,” he was saying, his tone cordial enough as he released her and patted her cheek. “I can see you’ve been well.” It was all he offered her before he stepped past her to greet the Dornish Prince, nodding his head in respectful acknowledgment. “Both you and Dorne have my deepest gratitude for providing us shelter and generous aid in our hour of need, Prince Mors.” As the two princes shared a firm handshake, Aeranys found her composure once more. Squaring her shoulders, she made her way back to her husband’s side, watching the two young men’s faces attentively. For now, she would have to focus on making sure that this first encounter between Rhaegar and Mors went smoothly as possible; whatever was fouling things in her own relationship with her brother would have to wait for the time being.

And yet, wasn’t someone missing from this picture…?

“Rhaegar?” a clear voice called. Her brother turned immediately at the sound, walking across the room to the corridor on the side. When he returned, it was with a dark-haired girl on his arm--Lyanna Stark. He led her back to the center of the floor, a protective arm around her slender form.

“May I introduce Lady Lyanna Stark, of Winterfell,” the Targaryen prince announced proudly, his eyes warm as summer as he looked down to the young beauty.

“Milord, milady,” Lyanna curtsied, though it was made slightly difficult by her condition. Her hands rested about her belly, which had yet to become overly burdensome despite being prominent enough to make the rumors undeniable. If she could hazard a guess, Aeranys surmised that she still had a few moons before she would give birth.

“Mors Nymeros Martell, milady,” the Dornish prince at her side returned with a graceful bow. “Allow me to extend a word of condolence along with Dorne’s welcome. I am sorry for your loss.”

The young woman only furrowed her brow at his words, a quick laugh rising to her lips. “And what loss is that?” she inquired, completely unaware of the way both Targaryen siblings stiffened--albeit for different reasons. Unfortunately, neither of them was quick enough to stop what was coming next.

“Your father and eldest brother, I understand they were good and honourable men. I’m sorry I was never given the chance to meet them.” His voice was quietly sympathetic, his gaze sincere, and yet, it could not soften the blow that was struck.

“What, what are you...” Lyanna uttered in disbelief, her smile fading. “Father and Brandon?” At the heavy silence, disbelief led swiftly to panic. “Rhaegar?” she demanded, looking up at him. In his face, however, she would find no shock or disbelief, but an uncomfortable truth. “No…” she stumbled back, looking dazed. Rhaegar reached for her, but she stepped further away, shaking her head. “Tell me it’s not true,” she blurted out, her grey eyes going Rhaegar to Aeranys, then to Mors, but in their eyes she would not find a gentle lie. “No, no, no--It can’t be true!” she cried, her voice breaking as tears began to streak down her pretty face.

“Lyanna, love,” Rhaegar caught her in his arms, cupping her face in his hands as he tried to calm her down. “Look at me, I--”

“You knew,” she choked out between sobs, her expression stricken with betrayal. “You knew--how could you!” Ripping herself from his grasp, the young woman fled in tears; Rhaegar followed immediately after, calling for her, but the sound of a heavy wooden door being slammed shut was the only answer he received. Dumbstruck by the storm that had suddenly come upon them, Aeranys could only stand there like a marble statue, exchanging stunned looks with the other two witnesses in the room. He hadn’t told her? How could that possibly be?

When Rhaegar returned he looked none-too-pleased. To an outsider he must have looked merely frustrated, but Aeranys and Arthur both knew that he was angry enough to spit fire.

You, Prince Mors,” he began venomously, storming forth with his indigo gaze fixed on the man who had let slip word of the tragedy. “Out of all of the bloody--

Years ago, when Rhaegar had spoken contemptuously about the Dornish prince, it had been loyal Arthur Dayne who had stepped forth to defend him. He would have gladly done it again, but this time it was not the knight that brought Targaryen prince to halt, but his younger sister.

Aeranys stood between the two princes, a slender hand at her brother’s chest. “I’d like to speak with my brother in private,” she requested politely, though she did not turn to address the knight nor her husband.

“There will be no need for that,” began Rhaegar dismissively, gesturing at Arthur, but his sister would not be waved away.

“Please,” was all the princess uttered, but the single word--clear and firm as unsheathed steel--was more than enough.
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Riding by camel was something that most, if not all, children in Dorne learned from a young age.  They were essential in voyaging across the desert sands and surprisingly sure-footed on the more rocky terrain of the Northern mountains.  Princess Aeranys was awkward at first astride her mount, but eventually settled into the teetering sway of the camel’s measured gait.  Before long, the Tower of Joy was within sight along with a collection of approaching riders.  Mors guided his desert steed before that of his wife’s, bringing them both to a stop as he helped her from her saddle.  Her stiff legs stumbled under her, but only just, and Mors was there to catch her with a hand upon her waist.  She wore red on this day, the colours of her born House.  He preferred the blood and black shades upon her to the delicate purples and soft yellows she so often donned.  When he heard his name called, he forgot about his wife and dropped her hands from his, turning at once to the sound. 

“Mors!” The Knight called, pulling off his helm to reveal shining hair and a smile as bright as any star.

“Arthur!” The Dornish Prince called back, hurrying through the sands, even as they slipped beneath his feet as the Knight of the Kingsguard rushed in to greet him.  They collided, crashing into each other as each threw his arms around the other.  The momentum made them sway back and forth as they held each other before at last, both men broke away from the embrace, eyes swimming with feeling as they looked each other up and down. 

“You’ve gotten taller,” Arthur mused. 

“You’ve gotten fatter,” Mors replied.  Both men stared one another down in silence for a beat before they broke into a shared laughter in unison.  Though they had pulled away from their tender-hearted embrace, neither one seemed quite ready to let go of the other.  Prince Mors of Sunspear let his hand linger upon the Knight’s shoulder, while Ser Arthur of Starfall kept his fingers curled about the back of the Prince’s neck. 

“Your hair,” Arthur observed as his laughter subsided, the smile never fully leaving his face.  Bringing his hand from Mors’ neck to his short locks, he shook sturdy fingers through them as Mors did with his own younger brothers.  “You’ve cut off all your curls.” Though Arthur kept his warm disposition upon his face, Mors’ expression had grown serious.  Arthur had ever been the sort to cling to a gentle moment, but Mors had questions that would not wait, not for even another instant. 

“Ashara, is she…?” Prince Mors began, but Arthur was already rushing to ease his worry. 

“She is safe.” He answered at once.  “She stays with Cersei and the babe in Maegar’s Holdfast.”

Shoulders that had been tensed, bracing for a potential blow, visibly relaxed.  Upon his exhaled breath of relief, Mors tightened the hand that held Ser Arthur’s shoulder affectionately.  “And you?” He asked.  “I trust the Manwoody’s have been good to you?”

“Better than I deserve, no doubt.” Ser Arthur answered with that gentle, smiling cadence that came so easily to him.  He had been the subject of much gossip within the Dornish Court, but only because there were so many women; available, promised or otherwise, who desired him.  Ser Arthur didn’t spend his days entertaining courtiers or toying with blushing ladies.  The eldest Dayne son was made of different stuff, nobility and honour carved into his very bones from his first breath.  There had only ever been one woman in Ser Arthur’s charmed life who had caught his eye.  Only one woman he had ever loved…

“Aeranys,” he greeted tenderly, pulling Prince Mors from his thoughts as he stepped around the young man to bow before Princess Aeranys, dropping a sweet kiss upon her outstretched hand. 

“Arthur,” she returned.  “I’m so happy to see you here.”  As she spoke, Prince Mors returned himself to his place at his wife’s side.  He tucked his feelings away as best as he could.  The woman upon his arm however, had gotten better at seeing what lurked beneath the mask in recent days.  It would be as obvious to her as it would be to anyone who knew the Golden Fang well.  To see Arthur, to hear his voice, to be near him; it made the Dornish Prince bloom like a flower in the sun. 

All too quickly they were within the stone walls of the Tower of Joy, Prince Rhaegar Targaryen before them.  At once, Prince Mors Martell dropped his arm accommodatingly.  As expected, his wife rushed forward with her arms outstretched to greet the brother she had not seen for weeks, for months.  When the crowned Prince, all silver hair and shining eyes, caught his sister by the arm, rejecting her embrace in lieu of a condescending pat upon the cheek, Mors pulled a face.  His gaze flicked to Ser Arthur who looked back at him with a matching expression, brow furrowed in confusion. The young Dornishman was not given the chance to muse over his observation however, as the moment was only that, a mere moment.  Swiftly, Prince Rhaegar stepped around his sister to offer the Dornish Prince a polite greeting and political thanks.  His words carried with them the warmth that should have belonged to his little sister.  She returned to his side in silence, the facade of demure compliance her husband hated so much painted across her features, something that Mors noticed all too keenly. 

“Both you and Dorne have my deepest gratitude for providing us with shelter and generous aid in our hour of need, Prince Mors.” The heir to the Seven Kingdoms said humbly, extending his hand to the man who was now his brother by marriage. 

“Dorne is with you and your family, your Grace.” Prince Mors answered, taking the hand offered to him and shaking firmly, perhaps a little too firmly. 

“Rhaegar?” A high voice called as a woman, round with child, stepped out into the larger chamber with the Targaryen Prince at her side.  Lady Lyanna Stark, the woman who was the singular reason behind the ensuing rebellion that raged beyond the shadow of the Red Mountains of Dorne.  She was young, younger than Mors had been expecting.  Her grey eyes were round as her cheeks, her face made full by the extra weight she carried to feed the life that grew within her belly.  It was a life that likely meant more to her than anything else in this wretched world, for all the suffering and loss she had endured in such a short amount of time to protect the unborn child she cradled in her hands that lie beneath the stretched skin under the linens of her dress. 

“Allow me to extend a word of condolence along with Dorne’s welcome.  I am sorry for your loss, my Lady.” As Prince Mors spoke he brought a hand to lay flat over his heart and bowed shallowly in a polite showing of humility. 

“And what loss is that?” Lady Lyanna inquired quickly, a challenging sort of quirk in her brow.  She was a cheeky thing.  As strong as the gossips had led the Dornish Prince to believe she would be.  Of course, she had suffered much loss since the rebellion had been but a whisper rippling through Westeros.  Even more so, now that the war had truly begun.   She had lost her home, her peace, perhaps even the love of her countrymen.  All at once, she reminded Mors too much of the little sister he had left in Sunspear. 

I’ll never leave you alone in this world.

“Your father and eldest brother,” he answered, allowing his features to capture all the sincerity he felt echoing in his blackened heart.  “I understand that they were good and honourable men.  I’m sorry I was never given the chance to meet them.”

“What…” The Northern girl stuttered in return.  “What are you… Father and Brandon…” Her breathing became laboured, her face going white as her lover’s hair as the hysteria began mounting within her.  At once, the Golden Fang realized his mistake.  While she stood there, looking between those who surrounded her, pale and panicked, the Dornishman before her felt his throat fall into the base of his stomach.  Were he a man of gentler means, his heart would have broken in tandem with her own. His olive-hued hands extended before him helplessly, as though he expected her to faint, as though he might be able to snatch his words from the air and pull them back.  Yet, there was no undoing what Prince Mors had done.  Once she found her voice, it was anger that poured forth from her pink lips.  If it had been Arianne standing before him now, she would have reacted just the same.  She would never forgive the man who kept such a secret from her. 

Lady Lyanna brushed aside Prince Rhaegar’s attempts to comfort her, flying from the room with the young dragon fast on her heels.  As he watched them go, quiet words fell from Prince Mors’ lips in disbelief.  “She didn’t know…” He muttered.  The Golden Fang, for all his notoriety as nothing short of a monster, would never do something like that to his own sister.  Never… Yet, here was not Prince Rhaegar’s sister, but rather his lover.  The Northern girl reminded him so much of the young woman he adored more than life itself, it took him a moment to remember that Prince Rhaegar’s sister, the little dragon he ought to love just the same, stood next to him.  He looked to her now, grief falling through him like a boulder all over again at the sight of her pretty face.  The loneliness that Prince Mors had worked so diligently to stopper into a slow drip seemed to have crashed upon her like a crushing wave, leaving her broken anew in its wake. 

“Aeranys…” The Dornish Prince started, reaching for his wife’s hand, curling his fingers around hers.  She was given only the briefest of moments to return his meaningful gaze with one of her own before the heir to the Seven Kingdoms stormed back into the room.  He paused for a moment, angry indigo eyes flicking pointedly to their tangled fingers.  Princess Aeranys pulled her hand from her husbands so quickly that it was impossible for the Dornish Prince not to notice the instinctive response.  Once more, he had not the chance to wonder at the woman at his side.  Prince Rhaegar strode forward, breathing fire upon the young man whose family had worked so hard to secure his safety. 

“You, Prince Mors…” He fumed indignantly.  “Out of all the bloody—”

Prince Mors stood with his back straight, accusation poised to strike from the forked tongue that lay in wait.  Neither men were given the opportunity to give voice to the resentment that leered in their shared gaze as Princess Aeranys stepped up to put herself between them, a hand upon her brother’s chest.  “I’d like to speak to my brother in private… Please.” Her words were meant for the Dornish men who joined them in the small room but her violet eyes remained fixed upon her brother. 

“As you say,” Prince Mors replied in a calm, even voice that was more his father’s than his own.  He folded his hands behind his back and moved from the room with Ser Arthur in tow.  Looking back over his shoulder, he willed his wife to meet his gaze, to speak sense to him in their silent way.  Yet, no such validation came and he watched after the back of her silver head even as the heavy doors closed between them. 

“He didn’t tell her.” Mors began as he walked shoulder to shoulder with the Knight who had always been nothing less than a brother to the Dornish Prince.  “How could he not tell her?” He asked, his intuition crawling up his back and pitching his voice into an incredulous tone. 

“You’re telling me that you keep no secrets from your new wife?” Ser Arthur asked, defensiveness for his Prince giving his voice an uncharacteristic prickle. 

“None which I intend to keep secret for long.” He answered, jealous in spite of himself.  There had once been a time when Mors was only Prince that Ser Arthur recognized.  “Though, I suppose I have been less kind with my… companions.” 

“Lady Lyanna is no such woman.” Ser Arthur pointed out.  “She is Prince Rhaegar’s wife now, in the eyes of the Seven.”

Booted feet stopped short, stern yellow eyes coming to face the Knight before him harshly.  “His what?” He asked coldly. 

“Come Mors,” Arthur began, placing a hand upon his friend’s shoulder and encouraging him onward.  “We have much to discuss.”

« Last Edit: June 10, 2020, 05:23:45 PM by Reigning King »

King Kade - Reigning from the North

Character limits kill my vibe...

Offline Reigning King

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Prince Mors Nymeros Martell sat alone in the humble quarters that had been prepared for him and his wife within the Tower of Joy.  The largest and more decorous rooms had been claimed by Prince Rhaegar and the woman who had apparently become his new Princess.  They were modest, plain quarters but no word of objection would pass Prince Mors’ lips on the subject, nor Princess Aeranys’ he expected.  The pair was not the sort to cause a fuss over such an insignificant detail.  The wait however, was unbearable.  He sat in the quiet of the room in one of two chairs positioned before an empty hearth.  The sun moved in the sky, casting shadows about the stone floors but Prince Mors did not stray from his post.  When finally, the minutes had dragged on, becoming hours, the door swung open and Princess Aeranys entered. 

“Aeranys,” her name fell from his lips like a prayer as he bolted upright from his perch.  When she padded her way into the room, looking weathered and worn, he lowered himself back down into his chair as she took the one beside him. 

“Are you alright?” He asked her.  “Your brother…” He meant to go on, but the forlorn look in her eyes made his words stop short.  "What is it?"
She took a moment in her silence, gathering her thoughts before she squared herself to her husband. 

“I must ask you something.” Princess Aeranys began.  "And please, answer me truthfully."

“Of course.” The Prince of Dorne replied without even a moment’s hesitation. 

“If they should die, my brother… my mother…” Something caught in her voice and she cast her gaze to her hands which were clasped tightly together in her lap.  Reaching across the space between them, Mors laid his hand atop hers with a feather-light touch.  The gesture seemed to renew her courage as she lifted her violet eyes once more to meet his golden ones.  “If something should happen to my family, would you hide it from me?"

"Never." Prince Mors replied, quick and sure of his answer.  "I said my vows, Aeranys.  I am yours just as you are mine.  I wouldn't keep something like that from you." His brow wrinkled in turmoil as he spoke, wondering at just what exactly her brother had said to her that would inspire such a line of questioning from the tired Princess before him. 

"Promise?" She asked.

“I promise,” he began, his voice drifting off as the hands beneath his own reached for the familiar curl of his fingers.  “Come here.” Prince Mors uttered quietly as he dropped from his seat to kneel before her.  His arms reached around her, pulling her tight against him as he held her against his chest, fingertips coming to touch upon the ends of her short hair.  “Don't give up on me until I've had the chance to set things right. I will protect them for you.” The Golden Fang told his wife, a rare softness touching upon his words as they fell from his lips, whispered into the curve of her porcelain neck.  “You are my family now.  You are not alone.” Closing his eyes, he let his head fall against hers tenderly.  “You won’t ever have to be alone again.” Her stiff posture relaxed within his arms as she curled herself into his broad, warm chest.  It was hard to say for how long they sat on the floor together, holding each other into the evening.  When Ser Arthur came knocking to call the newly wedded pair for dinner, Mors was still reluctant to let her go.  Instead he took her hand, their fingers knotting together in silent solidarity. 

When they entered the small, main hall of the Tower the meal had already begun, those in attendance already seated around the table before their plated food.  Ser Devran had joined them, Lord Manwoody and Prince Oberyn as well.  When Prince Rhaegar's deep indigo gaze lifted from his plate to his sister, his eyes fell once more on the clasped hands between them.  This time, Prince Mors of Dorne did not let his wife pull her hand from his.  Instead he squeezed her fingers tighter, meeting the Dragon Prince’s curious stare directly.  With a heavy silence hanging in the air, the Prince and Princess of Dorne moved to their places at the table.  Mors took care to pull out his wife’s chair and tuck her into place, never failing to notice Prince Rhaegar’s watchful eyes as they followed them.  Once seated, servants were quick to fill their goblets with wine and set plates of warm food in front of them. 

Feigning ignorance, Prince Mors reached for his wine before he began to cut into his waiting meal.  He paused however, when something caught his attention.  A hand moved across his plate to pluck the napkin from where it sat, folded into a neat triangle.  With a few more folds, the simple napkin became something else and when he placed the thin, stiff cloth before his wife, it stood in the shape of the paper birds that Nymeria had taught him how to make.  His eyes met hers and sparked with delight at the sight of the smile he had managed to pull forth from her gloom.  When her elder brother cleared his throat from across the table, she was snapped awake from the spell, returning to her meal as her smile faded from her sad lips. Mors did not miss the way her violet eyes drifted nervously to the crowned Prince Rhaegar. 

“We will be ready to depart with the rising sun, your Grace.” Lord Manwoody said conversationally, the first to break the weighty silence that enveloped them. 

“We will depart in the coming days,” Prince Rhaegar corrected without looking up from the food in front of him. 

“But, my Prince, I thought…” Lord Manwoody tried, but the silver-haired Prince was already speaking over him.

“I won’t leave Lady Lyanna in such a state.” He explained coolly, a note of finality to his stern tone.  “It isn’t good for the baby.”  The indigo gaze that had been focused on his meal lifted to touch upon those who sat around him at the humble, wooden table.  “The Realms will wait for their rightful Queen.”

“The Realms are bleeding.” Prince Mors interjected, a certain bite to his words.  “Your people are dying for you and your Queen even as we sit here now.” The words were said as though they were in defense of an unjust insult.  After all, the Realms already had a Queen and the daughter to that Queen sat beside him now.

“I don’t recall you being so soft of heart, Prince Mors.” The heir to the Seven Realms retorted in a sarcastical drawl, cruelty lurking in his narrowed stare.  As he inhaled a breath, prepared to reply to the entitled young man before him in kind, a gentle hand upon his arm made him stop short.  The Golden Fang looked to his wife before clearing his throat and reaching instead for his goblet, tipping the Dornish reds down his throat to drown the venomous words rising from his stomach. 

“Soft perhaps, but not wrong.” Ser Arthur offered, filling the tensed silence with patient reasoning.  “We should leave at our earliest opportunity, my Prince.”

We will not be going anywhere.” Prince Rhaegar snapped back, gesturing with his knife to the space between the two.  “You will stay here, at the Tower of Joy, to guard Lady Lyanna.” The words came like a blow, not only to Ser Arthur but the Dornish Prince who had been so eager to once more have his foster-brother at his side.  This time it was not Princess Aeranys who brought the Golden Fang to stillness, but instead the Dornish Knight at his side. 

“Easy, Mors…” Ser Devran muttered quietly, his voice low enough to be kept between those who represented their Realm to the man who would one day rule over her. 

Prince Mors Nymeros Martell exhaled sharply out of his nose, biting down hard on his food since he could not sink his teeth into the source of his vexation who sat across from him.  His carefully crafted mask was cracking, feeling bleeding through.  There was only so much that the Dornish Prince could endure and already, his tail had been sent twitching into a warning rattle that echoed through the Tower of Joy. 
« Last Edit: June 10, 2020, 05:31:44 PM by Reigning King »

King Kade - Reigning from the North

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The heavy wooden doors closed far behind them. The sound echoed in the empty hall, which was almost eerily quiet in comparison to the heartbroken wails that had just filled the place. In the center of the room the two Targaryen siblings stood, both wearing the mask of composure that their mother had passed down to them; even Rhaegar, whose temper had run hot just a moment prior, had suddenly cooled in the silence.

It was the younger who broke the stillness first, her tone measured. “You didn’t tell her.”

“Come now, Aeranys,” her brother cajoled with a scoff. “We’re alone now. Is that the first thing you wanted to say to me?”

“It wasn’t, but it is now,” she replied flatly, unwilling to be swayed from the topic at hand. “Why didn’t you tell her the truth?”

He shook her head dismissively, his twilight eyes roving the empty room as if he had invisible allies that would agree with his frustrations. “Don’t be silly, little sister. You wouldn’t want to hear such a thing if you were in Lyanna’s place.”

“Yes, I would,” the princess retorted firmly, but Rhaegar did not seem terribly convinced at all.

“You’re just saying so because you don’t know how horrible it would be,” he brushed her off again.

For a moment she could only stare. Because she didn’t know? Aeranys found herself letting out a short breath of exasperation. “I was there, Rhaegar,” she countered sharply, and at long last his eyes truly met hers, startled. “I saw the whole thing.” She approached him step by step, refusing to let him look away as she continued, her words falling fast and angry as she recounted the cruelty she’d been forced to witness. “I watched Rickard Stark burn--I smelled his flesh roast, I heard him cry out in pain. I saw his son strangling himself to death, desperate to save his father. I watched his face turn purple, I heard him choke, I--”

“Enough, enough!” Rhaegar barked, causing the young woman to fall silent. She watched as he closed his eyes as he paced the room, pinching the bridge of his nose as if he was trying to ward off a headache. “This...this language, it doesn’t suit you,” he gestured in disgust.

“Coward,” the word abruptly bubbled up from within her before she’d quite realized it, breathed low--but Rhaegar did not miss it.

“What?” he demanded hotly, rounding upon her, and immediately, her gaze flinched away to the floor.

Even though her head was bowed, she could feel his eyes burning into her face, hot as wildfire. It was almost enough to make the words in her throat shrivel away, but something made her lift her head and meet his gaze, lilac on indigo. Indignant defiance surged through her veins, filling her up and lending a cutting edge to her voice. “You’re a coward,” she repeated the sentiment without hesitation. “You just wanted to turn a blind eye to the consequences to your actions, and telling her would’ve shattered your cozy haven.”

“Aeranys...” he warned, but the fire that had been lit within her could not be smothered.

“Maybe it doesn’t reach you up here, Rhaegar, but out there, we are at war,” she went on, her eyes flashing. “Even as we speak, King’s Landing could be besieged--our mother, your son, hundreds of innocents--they could all be killed! You might as well have set the whole Realm aflame, and meanwhile, you’ve been here the entire time,” she gestured disdainfully to the tower that housed them, “so blind and so far removed from reality that you could call this place the Tower of Joy!”


She stumbled back, a hand clasped to her face where he’d struck her. In the next heartbeat, a thin stream of blood began to drip from her nose, splattering onto the stone floor, and the siblings could only stare at each other in stunned, horrified silence. It was Rhaegar who averted his gaze first, turning from her.

“This conversation is over,” he muttered, moving to walk away, but slender hands clutched at his wrist.

“Rhaegar, please,” Aeranys started anew, her voice now soft and contrite. As it had been since they’d been young children, it was always she who first begged for forgiveness, for reconciliation. “I’ve been worried sick about you, I’ve been praying for you every day. I don’t understand, I…” she swallowed with difficulty. “I’ve missed you more than I could put into words, but you… Why are you angry with me? What did I do?”

He said nothing in response, standing still and silent with his back turned to her, but Aeranys was not deterred. If he would not tell her what was poisoning his mind, she would do as they’d always done upon their brother’s bed--confess first, bare the doubts and fears, so that the others would feel no shame in doing the same. 

“I know,” she admitted shakily, her eyes dropping to the stone floor below them. “You were here from the start, weren’t you? Father didn’t arrange my marriage, at least not alone.” Aeranys had tried to convince herself that she was only being paranoid, but deep down in her bones, she knew the truth. It was time to face it. “I’m not a child, I know you wouldn’t have broken your promise unless you had to,” she rushed to reassure him, “And I understand you wanted to stay with Lyanna, but,” her voice grew strained. “You could have at least written to me and explained. Told me what was going on, that you were safe...” Unable to continue, she fell silent for a moment, her head dropping forward to lean against his back. His warmth was as it had always been, and hoping, praying, she managed to whisper her plea. “I don’t need an apology, but please, talk to me.”

The Rhaegar she knew would have softened by now. He would wipe her tears and promise he loved her still, but it seemed that things had truly changed between them. “If you’re accusing me of betraying you, just know that it was you who first dealt in treachery.” He told her coldly, shaking his arm from her grasp.

For a moment she couldn’t speak, thoroughly bewildered by his words, but even that was swiftly put aside as she desperately clutched at the unraveling strings of their bond. “I-I don’t understand, but I promise, I can. If we just sit and tell each other what’s on our minds like we used to, surely--”

“I don’t have time for childish fancies,” he interrupted curtly. “As you have so sagely enlightened me, little sister, we are at war.”

“Rhaegar,” she tried again, but he would not meet her eyes. He strode briskly away, only to stop short at the arch separating the hall from the corridor that would lead to Lyanna Stark.

“And furthermore, you best pray that what your husband has done will not cause Lyanna or my son any harm,” he added witheringly, his back still to her. “If the Realms lose its rightful Queen and heir, he will be to blame.”

“He didn’t know--” she immediately began in defense of her husband, but as her brother’s words sank in, she came to an abrupt stop. “Wait, what?” she questioned, her face draining of color as her expression turned from incredulity to horror. “You don’t mean…”

“She is my wife now, my true wife,” he declared as he turned to face her, standing straight and proud as he stared off into the distance, caught in a vision of his grand future. “My son will be my trueborn son, and he will carry the Targaryen legacy on his shoulders.”

“Rhaegar!” she cried, distress pulling her voice taught and high. Surely he could understand what chaos would be unleashed upon Westeros--this was beyond foolish. “Are you mad? Do you intend to see the Seven Kingdoms burn to the ground?”

“Do not forget to whom you speak!” he thundered. It was clear that he was done listening to her as he encroached upon her, his indigo gaze seething. “And do not forget who my wife is to be. She will be your Queen soon, and my son, your next King after me.” He pointed at her accusingly, contempt dripping from his tone. “It will do both you and your husband good to remember that.”

And with that he strode off, leaving her standing all alone in the hall, biting back the tears that threatened to overwhelm her.


She could hear them in the darkness around her. Prowling, circling. When she opened her eyes, she knew she was dreaming. Standing draped in shadow, she looked up to the Iron Throne above her. There sat the twisted dragon as it always did, bent and hideous, illuminated in the darkness by the sickly green of wildfire. It saw her, as it always did, but it was not the wildfire that came next. From the inky depths of the gloom, beasts came hurtling through the air, claws outstretched and fangs bared. The dragon let out a shriek as they set upon it, the lions snarling ferociously as they tore the disfigured creature to bits. Then all at once they turned to her, muzzles stained red. They growled, hackles raised as their predatory golden gaze bore into her.

They saw her. They saw, and they hungered.

Just as they pounced, roaring their victory, she woke once more in the dark. Sitting up, she caught her breath, painfully aware of her heart racing erratically beneath her ribs. Unease gripped her whole as she tried to calm herself, brushing away the cold sweat that had broken out over her skin. The Red had to be safe still, she told herself, even though she knew there was nothing to ensure such a thing. Her, she couldn’t think about that. Forcing herself to take in slow breaths, she looked about herself in the dark. As far as she could tell it was still deep into the night, and much to her relief, it seemed that she hadn’t disturbed the Dornish prince beside her. Carefully, she lowered herself back onto the bed, blinking up at the canopy above them.

A dream. Only a dream, she reminded herself.  But it never is, is it? something within her whispered. Just a dream?

Squeezing her eyes shut, she turned onto her side. When she let herself open her eyes, she could see the slumbering figure of her husband. He slept with his head turned away from her and the cold glow of the moon, his chest rising and falling at a pace that was slow and peaceful, unlike her own stilted breathing. I will protect them for you, he’d promised her, holding her tight. All she could manage at the time was to nod against his chest, too emotionally spent to say much of anything. In fact, she’d even been too weary to be surprised or startled by just how warm his embrace had been. The only thing she could think of was how long it’d been since she’d been held in such a tender way. The last time had been on that night she’d departed the Red Keep, her mother’s final embrace and Madge’s tight, tearful one--it felt so long ago, so far away. It made her feel small and lonelier than ever, but once again, his words drifted back to her.

You are my family now--you are not alone. You won’t ever have to be alone again.

Ignoring her better judgment she slid closer to her sleeping husband, taking care to move slowly. Curling up onto her side, she let her forehead lay ever-so-slightly against his shoulder while her arms came to rest between them, her fingers only a small distance from his elbow, where her hand so often rested in. It might have been a far cry from an embrace, but to Aeranys, it was enough for her to close her eyes, letting the warmth between them seep down into her chilled bones. In time her breathing evened to match his, and her foreboding thoughts warded off for the night, she slipped back into slumber, thankfully unmarred by terror.

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Offline Reigning King

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The afternoon sun hung high and bright in the sky, glistening against the crumbling, abandoned Tower that Prince Rhaegar Targaryen had made his home in the recent months.   The Manwoody forces that had joined them on their journey through the Dornish Causeway had made camp in the surrounding area.  It was this camp in which the Dornish Prince had toiled away his morning into midday.  The men who meandered around him, going about their daily chores, were each of them warriors.  There were no farmers, nor shepherds, nor fishermen carrying swords upon their hips.  Among them were only those who had been trained by scimitar and spear, their round shield an extension of their own personhood.  Prince Mors had replaced his finely tailored robes with thin tunics and breeches, matching the plain garb of those around him as they moved as one.  As they packed supplies and loaded carts, two decorated Knights approached them. 

“Mors!” Ser Devran called. 

“Ah, my friend, there you are.” Prince Mors called as he turned around, wiping the sweat from his brow with a stray rag he had pulled from a pocket.  “And you’ve brought Arthur with you, I see.” He noted, eyes falling upon the sworn Knight of the Kingsguard. 

“I was hoping he might be able to speak sense into that stubborn head of yours.” Ser Devran answered, sunny in spite of the way his liege glared at him. 

“I will not have this conversation with you again,” Mors said with a note of finality, turning his back once more to his childhood friends, the men he looked upon as brothers. 

“Then have it with me.” Ser Arthur said in an easy, amicable voice as he stepped up to place a hand upon Mors’ shoulder.  “What are you doing?” He asked.

“Gathering the camp and taking inventory,” the Dornish Prince answered without turning to look at the man who addressed him.  “Me and my men leave at tomorrow’s first light.” As he spoke he carried on with his task, yet the Dayne of Starfall who stood behind him, followed him as a shadow even after the younger man had slipped out from beneath his hand. 

“I wasn’t aware that Prince Rhaegar had given the order.” Ser Arthur replied, resting his wrists upon the heavy belt around his waist. 

“He didn’t.” Finally, the Golden Fang turned to face the pale-haired Knight.  “I did.”

“Mors…” Ser Arthur started.  At once the Dornish Prince recognized the expression that wrinkled the Knight’s brow and set his lips pursing.  It had been too many years since Mors had been lectured by the swordsman, and too many years had passed for him to be willing to suffer the scolding look he gave him.

“If Prince Rhaegar wants to stay here and play house with his new wife, he is welcome to do so.” Prince Mors interjected sternly.  As he spoke he closed the lid of the crate he packed and latched it before hoisting it into his arms.  “My men leave with me.”

“I told you…” Ser Devran said with a shrug as The White-Cloaked Knight turned to give him a wary look. 

“Mors… Mors!” Ser Arthur continued as both men trailed after the Dornish Prince through the shady camp.  “Please, Mors be reasonable.” He continued, trying to square himself before the young man as he stalked off, in spite of the way Mors continued to sidestep him.  “What if it was your unborn child,” he pleaded.  “What if it was your wife?”

“I would never keep something like that from Aeranys,” he spat back at once, slamming the crate onto the waiting cart and turning on Ser Arthur.  It was clear enough to the man of the Kingsguard that he had struck a nerve, as he recoiled and straightened himself before his friend, prepared for the scorn that had been unleashed upon him.   “I will not accept responsibility for the mistake your Prince made.”

“Let’s talk about this with Rhaegar,” Ser Arthur said as he stepped forward and placed both his hands squarely upon Mors’ shoulders.  This time, he squeezed tight, refusing to permit him from slipping out from his brotherly touch.  “Whatever you might think, he is a good and reasonable man.  He will listen to you, if you give him the chance.” The Golden Fang only scoffed, purposefully allowing his disbelief to show on his face.  “And whatever you might think, you are still my Prince and my brother.”

At that, Prince Mors Nymeros Martell of Dorne stilled beneath Ser Arthur’s hands.  Though he did not seem all too convinced, the Knight knew the right words to settle the young man before him.  At least enough for the usual mask of calm contentment to fall once more into place.  It was a familiar face with which Ser Arthur could more readily reason. However, he was never given the opportunity to try. 

“Is that so, Ser Arthur?” Prince Rhaegar Targaryen said, stepping out from behind the cart that the Dornish Prince had been loading.  “And here I thought it was my family, before whom you knelt and swore your vows…” He mused as he picked at his nails casually before fixing the Dornishmen he now faced with his twinkling twilight eyes.   

“Then it is you who misunderstands, your Grace.” The Golden Fang interjected, naught but venom upon his forked tongue.  “The truest oaths are not sworn upon bent knees.”  Unbowed, unbent, unbroken.  They were his words.  Dorne’s words. 

“You know, in all our years, I have never questioned your loyalties, Ser Arthur.” Prince Rhaegar continued, stepping forward and stepping around the Prince of Dorne as if he had never spoken; as if he wasn’t even there.  “Yet since the arrival of Prince Mors, they seem to change like the winds.” 

“Your Grace, I assure you that—” Ser Arthur tried, but upon Prince Rhaegar raising a silencing hand he quieted.  The Golden Fang recognized the gesture all too keenly, and had never hated himself more. 

“We leave when I say we leave.” Prince Rhaegar said in an authoritative tone, turning at last to Prince Mors Nymeros of Dorne. 

“As you say,” Prince Mors replied.  “But me and my men will be gone by this time tomorrow.” He added. 

“You forget yourself, my Lord.” The Dragon Prince scolded, his tone becoming louder and harsher.  “I give the orders here.”

“Then by all means,” The Golden Fang retorted in an evenly matched voice.  “Why don’t you explain to my soldiers why they should stay here instead of marching to the front lines where their fathers, brothers and sisters are all bleeding for your war.”

As Prince Mors of Dorne gestured about himself, Prince Rhaegar's eyes followed.   All at once he was too aware of the Dornishmen who surrounded him.  They had stopped in their chores to watch the unfolding scene.  Each one loyal to House Martell.  Each one unbowed, unbent and unbroken.  Realizing his position and raging in spite of it, he turned on the Dornish Prince with narrowed eyes and snarling teeth. 

“You are merely a Prince of —” The Targaryen heir seethed, but this time it was Prince Mors who interrupted him instead. 

“As are you, your Grace.” He snapped.  “And my orders come from the King of Westeros.” The Golden Fang explained coolly.

There was a beat, then two, then three before finally Prince Rhaegar Targaryen exhaled slowly from his nose, replacing his angry expression with one of calm indifference to match that of the man standing before him.  Through gritted teeth he hissed, “if you think you’ve proven something here Prince Mors…” and as his voice drifted in a hushed threat, the Dornish Prince rushed to fill the silence. 

“I have proven nothing yet, your Grace.” He observed in mock humility.  “But perhaps we should both draw our steel and see if I can’t.”

As the hint of a smile began to touch upon the Golden Fang’s lips, Ser Arthur stepped forth to place himself in between both men.  “Enough!” The White-cloak scolded.  When the Targaryen and Martell men remained poised in challenging opposition, Ser Devran stepped forward to place a hand upon Prince Mors’ arm and pull him away.  A gesture that Ser Arthur could have never carried out against his sworn liege.  The Golden Fang however, the loveless monster he was rumoured to be, permitted himself to be tugged back a few paces by his own man. 

“We march tomorrow,” Prince Rhaegar conceded, though not without adding, “on my command.”

“As you say, your Grace.” Prince Mors returned, the honorifics dragged out into a sarcastic drawl.  He was the first to show his back to the heir of the Seven Kingdoms, stalking off to another area of the camp to continue with his efforts. 

“Insolent boy…” Prince Rhaegar Targaryen muttered behind him, but as Mors’ halted to turn, Ser Devran placed a heavy hand upon his back and urged him forward. 

“Let it go,” he advised in a low voice.  “There will be plenty of time for cock-measuring once we reach the Stormlands.”

“I should bury my axe in his skull.” The Golden Fang muttered to the man at his side. 

“That would be treason, Mors.” Ser Devran chastised. When his liege had no jab to make in return he added in a gentler voice.  “And you wouldn’t do that to Princess Aeranys.”

“You’re right.” Prince Mors replied.  “I wouldn’t.”

The Golden Fang had changed from his sweaty tunics and dirty breeches into robes more becoming of a Prince of Dorne.  By the time the sun had commenced its journey over the western horizon, he had once more sequestered himself in the humble rooms allotted to him and his wife within the Tower of Joy.  He left the windows all open, permitting the warm Dornish breeze to roll in and fill the chambers with the smell of sun and sand.  He sat alone in the room until a quiet knock and creaking hinges announced his wife, who entered with Ser Devran in tow.  The Knight bowed quickly to his liege and lady, before excusing himself.  When alone, Ser Devran spoke frankly and honestly with his friend.  In the presence of others however, he was ever the picture of decorum.  Something that Prince Mors never failed to notice or appreciate in the man he viewed as a brother. 

“Good evening.” He greeted his wife pleasantly.  “I hope you don’t mind, I had our supper brought here.” As he spoke, he gestured to the spread that had been laid out upon the small, simple wooden table within their quarters.  Rising from where he had been sitting, he moved to the chair at one end of the table, pulling it out and gesturing for Princess Aeranys.  “I wanted you all to myself tonight.” The explanation was offered with the airy cadence of a joke, even if the pleasantry did not quite reach his eyes. 

The Targaryen-born Princess approached and took her seat, her husband pushing her chair into place as she sat.  Gentlemanly in his actions, he poured her wine and filled her plate first before taking his own seat.  The last time he had arranged such an evening in had been under less favourable circumstances.  Tonight however, the feeling between them stood out in stark contrast to that previous night, the difference alike to that of night and day.  They talked over their food as the sun began to set through the open windows, casting the room about them in a warm glow of oranges and pinks.  The light sparkled in her shining lilac eyes as they discussed those things of importance, those of little consequence and everything in between.   

“When my father tells you something, assume you are only ever getting half of the story.” Mors was saying as he set his fork and knife to rest upon his empty plate and reached for the fruit that sat between them.  “Think of everything as a test.” She nodded to him mindfully before casting her gaze out to the golden sun as it fell deeper behind the desert dunes.  He followed her gaze in turn, the pair sitting together in a comfortable silence so unlike the moments of tension and challenge that had come before. 

“I will miss you.” Prince Mors said suddenly, breaking the quiet with sweet words.  “I will look out for your family on your behalf while I’m gone.” He told her when the violet of her eyes met the yellow glow of his own.  “Will you look after mine?” He asked. 

The Golden Fang nodded along with his wife’s words.  Uttering a quiet, “thank you,” before another moment of silence passed between them. 

“If I should fall in battle…” At her utterance he offered her a gentle expression.  “Just listen,” he pleaded.  “If I should fall in battle, and you should be forced to take a new man,” his voice drifted off as his eyes met hers in earnest.  “Just make sure it is someone worthy of you.” He said.  “I promise I won’t be angry.  I only ask that you think of me from time to time.”

The late hours of the night advanced upon them all too quickly in the comfort of their shared tranquility.  Servants of the Targaryen House came to collect the remains of their meal and clear their table before leaving them alone with only the shining moon in the clear sky as their remaining guest.  Having already washed in the late afternoon, Mors stayed in the main quarters as a bath was drawn for his wife.  As he changed into his nightshirt and robe, he was ever-mindful of the splashing waters in the rooms beyond, steering his thoughts from the  naked body that bathed within.  When she emerged, clad in her nightdress with bare feet upon the stone floor, her husband was already in bed.  When she approached the edge of the large expanse of soft sheets, pulling them back, Prince Mors turned onto his side and held his arms out invitingly for his wife.  She paused in her practiced motions, looking to the man beneath her with curiosity tickling upon her brow. 

“Come here,” he beckoned, soft as he had the night before when he pulled her into his arms.  Princess Aeranys crawled into their shared bed, tucking herself into the crook of his shoulder, long arms wrapping around her.  Her hand fell against his chest where his own fell on top, tangling his fingers with hers.  “Goodnight wife,” he whispered into the darkness as his eyes closed and the silver-haired beauty at his side settled against him. 

“Goodnight Mors,” she answered, her hushed words the lullaby upon which he drifted to sleep. 

« Last Edit: June 15, 2020, 10:41:40 PM by Reigning King »

King Kade - Reigning from the North

Character limits kill my vibe...

Offline asterin

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Squaring her shoulders, the young woman drew in a breath as she stood before the large doors. Then, gently, she rapped her knuckles against the wood. She waited for a moment, then two. There was no answer. Pursing her lips, she tried again.

“I said leave me be,” the hoarse voice of Lyanna Stark came from within, a biting edge to her words despite it being so clear that she had been weeping for some time.

“I’m sorry for disturbing you. I’ll leave you to rest,” Aeranys apologized through the door, even as her feet stayed firmly planted before it.

“...Princess Aeranys?” the tone of her voice shifted belatedly. There was the sound of rustling sheets and footsteps before the door opened, revealing the haggard face of a grieving girl. For a moment the two young women only regarded each other, as if waiting for the other to make the first move. “Come in,” Lyanna Stark said finally, opening the door wide and leading her inside.

As Aeranys had expected, the quarters were much larger than the chambers that had been allotted to the pair from Dorne, but what surprised her was just how well it was furnished. It looked no less than a lord’s chamber. Had this been demanded of Lord Manwoody? Tucking aside her thoughts on the matter, she followed the dark-haired girl as she passed the rumpled bed in which she’d clearly been lying in, coming to sit at a cushioned bench at the window. For a stretch of time Aeranys waited in patient silence as the Stark girl stared out at the open space in front of her. She did not know her well, but she knew enough to know that the spirited young woman would not have invited her inside if she did not have questions of her own. Just as she expected, it was Lyanna who spoke first, tossing the question out into the air without any preface.

“Were you there?” she asked bluntly.

“Yes,” Aeranys admitted without hesitating--after all, she’d come here prepared for worse. “So he told you?”

The girl nodded, her hands twisting in her lap. “Burned to death by wildfire.” Her throat bobbed harshly as she struggled to swallow. “He--he tried to tell me they were beheaded first, but I knew that couldn’t be it. That would have been too kind for King Aerys,” she remarked bitterly. The Stark girl seemed to think that she had at last reached the horrible truth, but Aeranys knew it was not the whole truth. And yet, looking upon Lyanna’s face, round with youth and eyes rimmed red with tears, the princess could not find it within herself to correct her. Perhaps she was no better than her brother, after all.

“Why didn’t anybody stop him?” Lyanna demanded, anger trembling through her voice. “If I’d been there, I would have--” she trailed off, her jaw tight and her hands clenched even tighter, as if they clasped an invisible sword. Yes, Aeranys understood that emotion better than Lyanna Stark would have presumed. She knew what it was like to think that charging headlong into a problem could somehow fix things, when in reality--or at least, in her father’s court, it did nothing.

Of course, the real answer to Lyanna’s question was a simple one. Anyone who had tried to stop her father would have been tried for treason as well and strung up alongside Rickard Stark to burn. In her father’s paranoid, cruel mind, anyone who resisted was planning to murder him. It didn’t matter if it was a trusted advisor, or even his wife and daughter. However, Aeranys knew that Lyanna wasn’t really asking. Being a clever girl, she likely knew the answer already, deep down. “I’m sorry,” was all she solemnly offered. What else could be said?  There was no comforting word that could bring them back. She knew. All the pretty condolences she had been given when Daeron died--they’d done nothing to fill the gaping hole that had opened wide in her heart. She had lost one brother to illness, but Lyanna had lost a brother and parent all at once, not by the intangible hand of sickness, but by the malicious will of another. The fact that her own father had been the one to murder them only served to make things worse.

“No, it’’s all my fault,” the northern girl choked out, her loathing now directed inwards. Angry tears streamed down her face, but she did not move to dash them away, her fingers restlessly twisting the gold band glimmering on her left hand instead. “I should have known…”

Sympathy overtook her and Aeranys placed a gentle hand on her arm, giving it a light squeeze. “No, that’s not true,” she murmured. She was still so young in her eyes--the same age as Elaena. How could she have known? She was from the North. Daughter of a Lord Paramount or no, she had not spent much time in the court of King Aerys. She could not have predicted how violent and unreasonable her father could be. Of course, someone who should have known was Rhaegar. Just like Aeranys, he knew what their father was, and yet, he had made his choice. A choice that had put the entire Seven Kingdoms into chaos. “Do you still want to be with him?” she couldn’t help but ask.

“Yes, I do,” Lyanna Stark answered, nodding even as her lip gave a slight tremble. “He sees me as I am.” Her voice evened as she continued to speak, as if she was drawing strength from what Rhaegar meant to her. “Robert--Robert only saw me as a pretty face, but Rhaegar sees the wolf in me, just as I do,” she explained, a stubborn steely determination in her eyes.

“I see,” Aeranys responded. She fell quiet for a moment, but then a question slipped out unbidden. “Is he good to you?”

“Of course,” Lyanna retorted at once, a defiant twang in her voice. “Why would you ask such a thing?”

The fair-haired princess shook her head. “I’m glad,” she remarked, giving the girl an encouraging smile.

The Stark maiden seemed to calm at that, but another sensation roused her to excitement. “He’s kicking,” she whispered, her hands immediately going to her round belly. On her lips a smile had sprouted, the first she had seen on her face since the day they’d arrived.  “Rhaegar says it will be a boy.”

Indeed, her brother had seemed quite adamant on that point. “What do you think?” she inquired, her face and voice carefully neutral.

“I don’t know, but I hope it is,” Lyanna replied, a hand stroking the curve of her stomach lovingly. “Rhaegar wants to name him after a great Targaryen, but I think--” she paused, strong emotions running through her tone once more. “I think I’d like to name him after my brother.”

Aeranys watched the young girl who was beaming down at her unborn child, even as tears splattered onto the stretched cloth of her dress, and her heart ached for her. “Brandon is a lovely name,” she agreed softly.

They sat together on the bench until a maid arrived with a tray laden with food, desperate to coax the expecting mother to eat. Lyanna seemed willing this time, which caused palpable relief to wash over the face of the maid. Excusing herself with one last smile and a gentle word, she rose and left the room, returning to her own chambers. Her husband was absent, as he had left early on in the morning to tend to business with his troops.

Given the fact that she had not been able to spend much time reading during their journey, the young woman decided it would be an excellent chance to do so. It would also serve to distract her from the heaviness she felt after bearing witness to Lyanna Stark's grief--grief that reminded her too much of what she had lost and what was still at stake. Seating herself in one of the chairs with a sigh, she reached into the leather satchel filled with a number of books to find the one she had read last. Unfortunately, her peaceful time was not to last even an hour. 

The sound of boots on stone approaching rapidly was the only warning she received before the door flung open and in strode Rhaegar. He used to be scolded by her septas for doing that, entering her chambers unannounced and uninvited, but there were no septas to cluck and fuss here. “Rhaegar,” she greeted first, calmly closing her book and placing it in her lap as her brother paced the room in an aggravated manner. “What a pleasant surprise.”

He stopped short in his steps, turning to glower at her. “Don’t you start, too,” he spat. “I’ve been mocked enough for one day by that insolent husband of yours.” The scorn was palpable in the way he said the word, the way his eyes blazed, and the princess felt something sink inside her.

“What do you mean?” she dared to venture.

“He dared to go over my head and ordered that we depart tomorrow, and all his men, they--” Rhaegar broke off, fuming as he began to pace again. “Who do they think they are?”

“Please try to understand, Rhaegar,” Aeranys began cautiously, rising to her feet. “Dorne is doing a great deal for us, and the main troops are already at the front lines. You can’t blame them for being worried about their family.” She hesitated, then added, “Aren’t you worried about Mother?”

“You and Arthur both,” the elder sibling muttered under his breath, his expression dark as he shook his head. “Unbelievable.”

“Listen to him, please,” Aeranys implored. “Has he ever led you wrong?” She might not have known what the Dayne knight had said, but she trusted his judgment. Arthur always had a level-headedness about him, which often had a calming effect on Rhaegar--though it seemed that he had failed in his endeavors this time. “And Prince Mors--” she continued, but the sound of the Dornish Prince’s name immediately caused his mood to take a turn for the worse.

“You would take his side,” he hissed, striding over to where she stood to point accusingly at her. “A dishonorable brute over me, your own brother?”

“I’m not trying to take a side,” Aeranys tried to reason, her hands raised beseechingly, but he seemed deaf to her words.

“I see how it is. It’s he who poisoned you, dripping venom into your ear,” he sneered, circling her. “Is that all it takes, Aeranys? A little romp in the marital bed and he’s tamed you? You’d make a dragon rider out of a man so base?”

In shock, she stared up at him, mouth agape. “What, I--” she protested, her delicate hands balling up into fists as her face went from sheet white to red. “How could you say that?” she started, her eyes flashing like a lightning-struck sky. Why was he doing this? Why was he trying to hurt her?

“You shame yourself and your name,” he spat back cruelly, and at that, the emotions churning within her suddenly stilled.

The last time he had said those hateful words to her, deep in the belly of a ship returning from Storm’s End, she’d burst into tears. As strictly as she had been taught to hide her emotions from the prying eyes of the court, within the charmed trio of siblings, she’d never felt the need to put on a pretense. But now, as she stared into Rhaegar’s face, painted with contempt and something she could not quite place, her mother’s familiar countenance welled up to overtake the hurt. The shock, the confusion, the humiliation melted away from her features, depriving him from what he wanted. If he wanted to hurt her, then he would not get the satisfaction. If he wanted her to scream, to cry, to beg, she wouldn’t give him a single word.

Calmly, she turned away from him, plucking her book from the seat of the chair and heading towards the door. She had made it halfway across the room when he spoke again, his words suddenly pleading and sorrowful.

“Don’t go, Aer.”

Don’t go, Aer, Daeron’s weak voice echoed in her ears, and her body froze in place before she had even realized it. As if moved by an invisible hand, she turned, only to be enveloped in a tight embrace by Rhaegar, who clutched at her like a drowning man.

“Don't leave me behind,” he murmured into her hair, his voice forlorn and lonely. “Must I lose you, too?” 

All at once, his strange behavior began to make sense to her. Was this why he’d been so cold? Was he afraid of losing her now that she was married, afraid they would grow farther and farther apart? A pang went through her at the thought. “Never,” she answered against his chest, heartache in her tone as she wrapped her arms about him as well. Daeron’s loss had cut them deep, and it was clear that it had affected them in different ways. He’d always been one to lash out whenever he felt alone, and perhaps he’d meant to push her away before she could drift away on her own. “You’ll always have me, Rhaegar,” she reassured him kindly, her words soaked with all the warmth she could muster. “You are my brother. No matter what happens, we have a bond that cannot be cut.” He let out a shuddering sigh at her words, and her own shoulders loosened in relief as he pulled away to place an affectionate kiss on her forehead. Here was her brother, the Rhaegar she knew. Circumstances had changed, and everything was tangled up into a mess, but still, he was her brother. There was no denying that he had made dire mistakes, and he would have to answer for them--but she would not abandon him. How could she?

She raised her eyes to meet his familiar indigo gaze with a smile, and Rhaegar smiled back at her, satisfaction upon his visage. “Don’t forget that,” he then uttered quietly, something peculiar lurking in the depths of his eyes as he absently toyed with a lock of her hair. Before she could delve further or bring up another matter, however, he straightened to his full height. “I will see you in the evening,” he told her, bidding her farewell, and Aeranys nodded, watching as he left through the door as abruptly as he had entered. The relief she had felt evaporated along with his presence, and though the warmth of his embrace still lingered about her, something within her felt hollow and cold.

« Last Edit: June 19, 2020, 01:30:08 PM by asterin »
.。*゚+.*.。bury me in the stars +..。*゚☾+

Offline asterin

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Unlike the tension-filled event of the previous night, the dinner Aeranys was greeted with was a very different sort. It helped that there was no one else there, and especially fortunate that the two princes weren’t in the same room. Briefly, she wondered if Rhaegar would be upset to see her absent from the dinner table, but she put the thought aside. Surely, he would want to spend the evening with Lyanna, she reasoned to herself as Mors pulled out her chair expectantly.

They’d been in this situation once before, but in the span of a few days, things had changed drastically. The icy silence that had hung over them then was gone, replaced with a steady flow of conversation. Once the subject of family had come up, she had wasted no time to apologize on behalf of her older brother. “My father never let any of us have much say in anything,” she’d explained quietly. “I suppose that only served to make him more stubborn.”

Her husband, in turn, went on to explain the nature of his father, the Ruling Prince of Dorne, and the young woman took careful note of his words. After all, she was supposedly to be taking Mors’ place at his side. Her suspicions that the aging man was fond of tests were confirmed by his son, who had likely spent a lifetime clearly said tests and challenges. Toying with the thought, she turned her gaze to the setting sun filtering through the window. Indeed, she was well aware that the moment she returned to Sunspear, a struggle would start anew. To be wed to their prince was one matter--being accepted was another matter entirely. Her husband would not be the only one marching off to the battlefield come tomorrow.

“I will miss you,” his voice came abruptly, causing her to turn away from the window and meet his gaze, startled. She was not given the time to stammer out any sort of reaction, however, as he went on. “I will look out for your family on your behalf while I’m gone,” he uttered. “Will you look after mine?”

Now that was something with a much easier response. “I will,” Aeranys answered solemnly. “I promise.”

“Thank you,” he murmured. She watched him for a moment longer before her thoughtful gaze flicked back to the sunset.

I will miss you--it was a sentiment that had come wholly unexpected, catching her off guard. After all, they hadn’t even been married a week’s time. In fact, their whole courtship had been nearly non-existent, and whatever existed of it to speak of had been far from smooth or affectionate. Her first instinct was to assume that he had said such a thing because it was expected of him, pulled straight from a pool of perfunctory lines that a dutiful husband might say to his wife before leaving her side--and yet, as mysterious as those golden eyes remained to her, she had not seen falsehood or mere obligation within them. Curious, indeed. Even curiouser was the realization that perhaps, she did not feel so differently about the young man who had become a fixture in her new life. Her eyes wandered again, rising subtly to the prince.

However, it seemed that she hadn’t been subtle enough, for he caught her eye and spoke once more. “If I should fall in battle…” he began, and immediately, her contentedly thoughtful expression went stiff and fell.

“You shouldn’t say things like that,” she interjected firmly, “Arianne would never forgive you--”

“Just listen,” he interrupted her, a tender plea in his eyes, and reluctantly, Aeranys released the breath that would have made up the remaining words on her tongue. “If I should fall in battle, and you should be forced to take a new man…” She felt her brow crease. This was not what she had been expecting to hear. “Just make sure it is someone worthy of you,” he told her, the words hanging in the air between them. “I promise I won’t be angry. I only ask that you think of me from time to time.”

For a long stretch of time she was quiet, her lilac gaze having dropped to focus on a swirl in the wood of the table they sat at rather than to look into his earnest eyes. She had thought their wedding night to be a disaster. An unconsummated marriage could hardly be called a marriage at all; nothing was set in stone until vows were exchanged and a bedding occurred. To the young woman who had accepted her fate with nothing but the thought of the last hope it might bring her family, the strange limbo she had found herself had been a source of anxiety. She could be put aside on a whim should the need occur, or if Dorne no longer wished to be on the losing side--a clever exit strategy. That fear had softened its hold on her in recent days as their marriage finally seemed to hit a clumsy but certain stride, but still, never had she ever once imagined that the exit strategy had been meant for her, not Dorne. An escape, untouched and unsullied, into a new marriage.

“Did you know I was made aware of a potential betrothal not even three months after my brother died?” she began quietly, still staring at the whorl in the woodwork. “He was from a prominent Volantene family, and he was willing to pay.” There was a hint of wryness in the way her lips pursed before going on. “I hadn’t noticed at the time, but talk of the match must have been going on for weeks. Maybe even months.”

“I was so furious, I remember telling Rhaegar that I’d rather take the Stranger himself as a husband than to be sold to a stranger,” the princess recalled, and if she’d met his gaze, he would have seen a flicker of hurt deep in those eyes at the memory. The Golden Fang had confessed that he’d never wanted a wife in the traditional sense. Similarly, Aeranys had never dreamt of being a beautiful bride. Being one meant being married, and her parents’ marriage had only taught her that it was full of nothing but pain and heartache. After the one person she thought could make her happy as a wife had left her side, she’d held out for five years in her stubborn insistence. Of course, fate had reminded her that there was something she valued even more than that singular wish.

“I chose to marry in order to protect my family,” she told him, her gaze drifting to the scene outside the window briefly. When her eyes met his again, there was an unyielding conviction within them. “I’d do it again, if I had to.” If it was to save them, she would go through the hellish ordeal as many times as it took, even if it would tear her to shreds. There was no doubt in her mind about that matter. “But know this--if you fall in battle, and the war is resolved despite it, I will not be made to take a new husband,” Aeranys went on to declare, her voice as steely as her gaze. “I will tell them--my father, my brother, every suitor if need be--that I was a married woman in every sense. I will not be made a pawn for gain. I would rather stay your widow than to be a bride again.”

Her expression softened then, the fiery determination in her gaze turning to warmth. “But regardless of what happens, I will think of you,” she assured him, her voice as gentle as her smile. “Just as you have thought of me.”

This seemed to put him at peace, and they moved on from talk of death and remarrying into things less demanding. Still, Aeranys could not help but feel that maybe they were just staving off thoughts of the uncertain future lying in wait for them at first light.

When their conversation finally petered out, there was nothing more to do than to get ready for bed. The moon was already shining brightly in the sky, illuminating the small room she bathed within better than the candles. Though it wasn’t particularly late into the night, they had decided that it would be best to retire early, seeing that they would be departing at first light. He already seemed asleep when she returned to the main chamber, but when she approached the large bed they shared he shifted to greet her, holding his arms out towards her. At her hesitation, he beckoned, murmuring a ‘come here.’ Not quite knowing what to think, she slid into bed beside him and into his embrace. Despite the awkwardness she felt, there was no denying how warm he was, or the way her head fit perfectly into the crook of his neck, her hand naturally coming to rest above his beating heart. His fingers soon found hers, weaving them together in the manner in which she’d started to become accustomed to. “Goodnight, wife,” his voice came, quiet and close.

“Goodnight, Mors,” she whispered back. Within a few dozen seconds his breathing slowed--it would seem that her husband was someone gifted with the ability to slip into sleep without much fuss. Aeranys had never been the sort, though perhaps that hadn’t been the fault of some inherited genetics. When night came, she would lie awake, unable to ignore the terrible sounds ringing through the adjacent hallway; even on those blessed nights that were silent and undisturbed, she couldn’t help but stay suspended in tense dread, fearing that the worst was yet to come. And yet, as she lay there in the dark, listening to his slow breathing and the faint rhythm of his heart, she closed her eyes and felt herself being drawn into slumber as if it’d all been a lie--a sleep without a single lion, dragon, or spark of wildfire.


The sky was still relatively dark as the small group stood clustered outside the Tower of Joy, separate from the much more impressive number of soldiers standing at attention. On the lowest point in the horizon, the beginnings of dawn could be seen, signaling that the time for farewells had come for them all.

Lady Lyanna had maintained quite a brave face since they had first gathered, her pale face drawn but her eyes dry. In the end, however, the impending departure of the prince she had thrown everything away for had overwhelmed her. She wept bitterly as Rhaegar wiped her tears away, speaking to her in hushed tones that did not quite carry to where Aeranys stood, watching the scene with the Dornish Prince at her side. If she wanted to say something more than just a ceremonial farewell to him, it would have to be now.

“You made me a promise,” Aeranys spoke up, turning her head to look upon her husband. When his eyes met hers, yellow on lilac, gold on silver, she went on. “Promise me again,” she urged, her tone and expression grave. Once he acquiesced to her request and repeated the words he’d said to her twice before, she nodded, seemingly satisfied as she reached for his hands--the first time she’d sought them out on her own accord. If it embarrassed her, it was hidden from him as her gaze momentarily fell onto their hands. “You said I am your family now,” she reminded him, recalling how he’d held her as he murmured those words. “That makes you my family as well.” Raising her head to fix him with an unflinching gaze once more, she gave the fingers interlaced with her own a tight squeeze, a subtle embrace not so easily sussed out by onlookers. Her voice remained serene as she spoke, but there was a strange emotion stirring in her eyes. “So you must return safely, or you will have broken that promise.”

« Last Edit: June 19, 2020, 12:27:34 PM by asterin »
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Offline Reigning King

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The dawn had yet to give way to the new day to come as they gathered beneath the shadow of the Tower of Joy.  Prince Rhaegar moved to his new wife first, without acknowledging any one else in their small party.  She wept as he held her and Prince Mors of Dorne could not help but watch the exchange in muted curiosity.  Though he had wronged the young Lady Lyanna, the feelings he had for the she-wolf appeared genuine.  In that regard, Mors understood the Dragon Prince.  Yet something uneasy still settled within the base of the Dornishman’s stomach at the sight.  He knew better than most that the line between truth and tact was but a narrow thread, often invisible to the untrained eye.  The woman at his side however, his wife, pulled him from his thoughts with her quiet words. 

“You made me a promise,” she said.  “Promise me again.”

Stepping forward, he squared himself to the pale, Targaryen born woman before him.  “I am yours, and you are mine. I will protect your family and I will keep nothing from you.”  Devotion of marriage, scarcity of secret, respect for loved ones, all were promises he’d made before.  Now, as they set out to uphold the contract upon which all others had been made, the words meant a little more.  “I promise.”

Aeranys reached out to take his hands within hers, and though he might have been surprised by the gesture, he hadn’t the chance to contemplate his own reaction.  “You said I am your family now, that makes you my family as well.” The dark brow that was raised in queer consideration, settled into something softer and more sincere.  “So you must return safely or you will have broken that promise.”

The Golden Fang tugged gently on the hands that held his, pulling her forward before breaking their shared grasp only to wrap his arms around her.  He held her against him as he whispered through the short locks of her silver hair, “I will.” When the arms around her loosened and she stood before him, with his hands upon her shoulders, it seemed as if the moment for goodbyes had passed.  Prince Mors however, had more to say. 

Reaching into his tunics, the Dornish Prince produced the blade he typically kept tucked within his boots.  The remaining stars in the morning sky sparkled against the glistening ivory handle of the blade he had named, Fingers. “You know what it means to draw this blade.  You know the power it holds.” Turning the weapon in his hands and offering the handle to his wife he told her, “take it.”  When she hesitated, looking down at the blade held out before her, he slipped a finger beneath her chin and lifted her face to meet his. 

“If you are to hold my seat, you must also hold my authority, even if it is a burden.”  Still, she seemed unconvinced.  “If I break my promise,” he began, tenderness touching upon his stern voice. “If I don’t return, Dorne will pass to my sister, and this burden will become hers to carry. If that happens, I want you to be the one to give it to Arianne.”

“Please Aeranys,” he pleaded quietly.  “Take it.” At last her hand lifted to meet the blade, curling her gentle, kind fingers around the bone-carved hilt.  She held the knife to her chest, eyes adrift in thought.  When she lifted her gaze and opened her mouth upon an inhaled breath, she was not awarded the opportunity to give voice to her words.

His lips met hers as the light began to touch upon the horizon, casting hazy rays about them as he cupped her face in cradling hands.  She stiffened at first and then settled into his kiss.  When their eyes met once more, the ghost of a smile touched upon his golden gaze.  Still holding her face in his hands he told her, “forgive me, I wanted to be able to do that, at least just once.” The tips of his fingers brushed against her cheeks and then, he was gone. 

“Don’t die.” Prince Rhaegar Targaryen had heard Ser Arthur say to the Dornish Prince before he had given the order to march.  “If you break your aunt’s heart, I’ll hunt you through the depths of the Seven Hells to make you pay for it.”

“As you say,” the Golden Fang had answered, naught but adoration in his voice.  “And if you die, I’ll hunt you just the same.”

“Then let us both be sure to survive this war.” The Knight of the Kingsguard had embraced the brute, holding him as tenderly as he had ever held either of his flesh and blood sisters. 

Prince Rhaegar has never understood the relationship between Arthur Dayne of Starfall and Mors Martell of Sunspear.  In fact, he had outright denounced it on more than one occasion.  Yet, for whatever reason, Arthur’s love for the Dornish Monster had persisted.  There had been a time when he had found himself jealous over their love.  In fact, it had been Ser Arthur Dayne who had first put forth the Golden Fang as a potential suitor for his beloved little sister.  That feeling has dissipated in the years they had spent side by side in King’s Landing and then Dragonstone thereafter.  Ser Arthur had proven himself to be the Dragon Prince’s dearest and truest friend.   All the same, the indigo-eyed Prince couldn’t help but wonder if he knew Arthur as truly or as deeply as Mors Nymeros Martell. 

Arthur had never made any mention of Elia Martell, though Rhaegar could recall him paying her the extra attention that the ladies of the King’s Court so desperately desired on formal occasions.  However, he spoke of her with the Dornish snake like children swapping inside jokes.  In spite of himself, Rhaegar found himself wondering after Prince Mors Nymeros Martell as they continued their campaign through the Stormlands.  He was a murderer of children, a friend to monsters, a snake in the grass, however he still had the ability to win over the gentle hearts of those around him.  Ser Arthur and even his own darling little sister, included.  Even now, as he watched the Dornish Prince converse with the Stormlanders, representatives from other neighboring villages at his side, they did not look upon him as the deadly serpent Rhaegar knew him to be.   Instead they seemed to respect him, admire him, even.  It was an art form that the Targaryen Prince himself had never quite perfected.  Always the Dragon fought to be set free within him, all hot breath and sharp teeth, moving too close to the surface to be missed completely.   

“On your feet,” Prince Mors chastised gently when the villager before him began to bow and lower himself onto one knee.  “You and your people are with Dorne now, and the Dornish are unbent.”  The man before the Dornish Prince rose to his full height and reached out to take the hand extended to him, shaking firmly. 

“The truest oaths are not sworn upon bent knee.”  That was what Mors had told him.  More than mere words, it would seem. 

“You continue to surprise me, Prince Mors.” Rhaegar told the young Dornishman later that night after their party had set camp.  “After hearing about the way you crushed the Island of Estermont to ashes, I half expected you to put every village we passed to the torch.” He seated himself before the Golden Fang, who did not even deign to meet his gaze.  Instead he focused on the stew that had been prepared for the soldiers, always eating as his men ate and ignoring Prince Rhaegar’s invitations to dine as a proper Lord ought to. 

“What made you choose such a diplomatic strategy?” The Dragon Prince asked.  As he spoke, he took the Dornishman's bowl from him, holding if over the steaming pot and pouring in a second helping.   By the clench of Prince Mors' jaw it was clear he interpreted the gesture as condescending rather than helpful.

“It’s not my strategy.” He answered in his usual unreadable, monotonous voice. 

“Then tell me, who is this secret advisor?” Prince Rhaegar prompted, handing the bowl back to the Dornish Prince.

“Your sister.”

“We could still do it, you know…” she had told him. 

“Do what?” He had asked, even though they were both well aware that he knew exactly what she was talking about.   Nevertheless, she had indulged him in his little games like she used to when they were young. 

“Leave.” She has answered.  “Like we always talked about when we were children.” As they walked, she had clasped her hands behind her back and swayed on her heels as she strode on, keeping pace with the boy at her side whom she had spent her whole life loving. 

“We could go at night while everyone is asleep, take a ship and disappear across the Narrow Sea.” She watched him, a smile painted across her handsome mouth.  Though she silently willed him to return the gesture, he never did.  “You wouldn’t have to be a Prince, and I wouldn’t  have to be a soldier, we could just be us.”

“Us?” He had repeated, a playfulness touching upon his ever-serious voice. 

“Yes.” She returned with confidence.  “Just us.”

“We’re not children anymore, Natari.” They had walked side by side for a time, the comfortable amicable silence that Natari had become accustomed to.  After a while he added, “though perhaps we still could.”

“You don’t have to go.  It’s not your fight.  It’s not Dorne’s war.” Natari had pleaded. 

“You know I do.” He had replied, and of course, just as he said, Natari had known the words to be true.  “Look after her for me while I’m away.”

“I will,” she had told him.  “You have my word.”

He had held her close, this monstrous boy she so loved.  With a gentle hand upon the side of her face he had uttered a quiet, “thank you.”

She sat upon the rocks that piled high around the Dornish coast.  In her hands she cradled a small collection of pebbles.  One by one she had lobbed them into the waters that crashed against the shoreline beneath her as the sun fell further across the sky.  There had been a time once, before they grew up and everything got more complicated, when she had wasted away the hours plotting her great escape with her friend.   They had chosen which ship they would steal, how much gold and silver to take with them.  They talked into the night about who among their closest friends could be sworn to secrecy, who would have to be fooled or lied to, and who would join them on their secret adventure.  Devran and Arianne had always made the short list in that particular endeavour.  It was hard to say at which point things began to change.  Perhaps it was when he left to foster with the Daynes in Starfall.  Perhaps it was after he had defeated the basilisk in High Hermitage and earned his moniker, or the time she had called him by the infamous title and he had gotten so mad at her she had started crying.  Perhaps it was after he killed the Uller boy… Whenever it had happened, however it had happened, things had changed. 

“Though perhaps we still could…”

Yet, she could still hope.  These days, it seemed like all Dame Natari of House Toyne had left was hope. 

“Dame Natari!” A voice called from the docks.  “Longboats are approaching.  She's back.”

For now, however, she still had promises to keep. 

“Princess Aeranys,” Dame Natari greeted with a polite bow as the Dornish Princess was ushered out of her comfortable cabin and to the docks of Sunspear’s hidden cove. She extended a strong hand, graciously assisting the silk-clad woman onto the narrow but sturdy planks beneath her feet.  “I trust all went well in Kingsgrave.”

They climbed the steps of the docks to the stone pathway that would lead them to the palace.  “I understand that perhaps you are tired from your journey, but there is someone waiting for you in your chambers who would very much like to speak with you.”
« Last Edit: July 04, 2020, 09:40:50 PM by Reigning King »

King Kade - Reigning from the North

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She woke with a start, a wailing cry echoing close, close, close. “Mother,” she rasped out, stumbling up out of the bed in a panicked haze. “Mother!” The floor moved unsteadily beneath her feet, and she tumbled to her knees in her misguided alarm. The pain that bloomed in her limbs served to wake her, however, and shapes slowly came into focus in the dark as she drew in erratic breaths. She was not in the Red Keep, or even in Sunspear. No, she was still on the Dornish causeway, headed back to the Dornish court, and of course, the sound of her mother’s cries were but a dream.

When, however, had those words ever truly comforted her? Swallowing, she picked herself off of the wooden floor, fumbling for light. The weak glow of candle soon illuminated the small cabin that had been prepared for the voyage, and the princess limply took a seat on the bed. Even now, the ghost of her mother’s voice haunted her, ringing incessantly in her ears. Her stomach was churning, as if she was travelling on a rough storm-struck sea instead of the calm canal. A dream, yes, but her unease remained. She had heard her mother’s cries more often than she could count, but the wails she had woken to had not been ones of fear or pain. It’d been a sound she’d only heard once before--when Daeron had breathed his last. Grief and loss; bottomless loss. A chill crept over her, her skin raising into goosebump as her dread only deepened, sinking into marrow. Loss. It’d always been a frightful word, but now that they were at war, it was more than just a syllable on a tongue.

Yet, there was nothing she could do, at least for the time being. Nightmare or not, Aeranys knew that she needed her sleep. After all, she had been informed that they would be arriving in Sunspear by midday tomorrow. While she didn’t yet know what events or duties awaited her there, she would be foolish to try to meet it without all her wits about her. Releasing a heavy sigh, she stiffly lowered herself back onto the mattress, loathe to look away from the flickering candle. Her fingers slipped beneath her pillow, seeking out the king piece that always stayed with her. Having found it, she drew it out and held it close, her hands clasped tightly about it as if she was praying for the comfort that her brother’s memory had often imparted unto her. Still, even as the moments grew into minutes, the tightness in her chest did not fade, nor did her stilted breathing seem to calm. At last, the young woman sat up again, huddling into herself.

She slipped out of her bed once more, crossing the small quarters to where her satchel sat. She reached within it, carefully drawing forth a slim cloth bundle. When she had unwrapped the silken cloth, what was left in her hand was the dreadful knife he had placed in her care. She ran a tentative finger along it, catching the edge of the fangs that protruded from its ivory handle with the pad of her finger. Slowly, she returned to her bed, curling up onto her side. Wrapping the blade with the cloth once more, she placed it under her pillow next to the black king piece, right at the edge where her hand could feel its presence. Despite her conflicting feelings regarding the things the knife had seen, despite it all, Aeranys found that she could at last let her eyes close. Then, even as she was pondering the curiousness of it, she managed to slip back into a restless sleep.


The Dornish sun was bright as she stepped from the cabin, and Aeranys briefly allowed herself to squint against the harsh rays. Of course, she was never alone for long, and soon a somewhat familiar voice was greeting her. It was Dame Natari who waited for her, reaching out to help her step off of the longboat with a sturdy arm. “Thank you, Dame Natari,” she thanked the young woman, nodding at her with a gracious smile. “Indeed. The troops set off according to plan, with Prince Mors and my brother leading them,” she offered, though she suspected that the knight was likely already aware. “And of course, Ser Devran was well, last I saw him,” Aeranys went on to add, aware that her husband’s trusty shadow was Dame Natari’s twin brother. What sister would not worry about her brother?

Indeed, Aeranys’ thoughts were on her last surviving brother, who was marching off to war alongside her new husband. There was the feeling of worry, of course, but something else crept alongside it, an unsettled discomfort. Confusion, perhaps. The brother she had once known as her own mind seemed like a stranger to her now. Just when she had believed they had come to an understanding, aired their grievances and bridged whatever gap had formed between them during their time apart, things had gone awry once again. She could still see the look in his indigo eyes in the light of dawn, cold as the long winter itself. “When we meet next, you’ll realize your mistake, little sister,” he’d intoned against her ear as he drew her into a stifling embrace. He’d turned away from her then, striding off before she could ask what it was that he meant. Perhaps it did not matter what he meant. There was only one thing that mattered: she had slighted him somehow, and while in her youth she would have done anything to immediately make amends, with him halfway across Dorne, there was nothing she could do. It was now a constant thorn digging into her mind, rubbing it raw.

“I understand that perhaps you are tired from your journey,” Dame Natari spoke, bringing her thoughts back to the present. “But there is someone waiting for you in your chambers who would very much like to speak with you.”

This news was somewhat unexpected, but Aeranys did not show a flicker of surprise, only turning to the female knight next to her with an accommodating smile. “Of course.”

When the pair of young women reached the chambers designated for the princess, Dame Natari stepped aside and stood by the doorway, gesturing for her to go ahead and enter the rooms. Taking only a moment to compose herself in preparation for whoever and whatever lay in wait for her, Aeranys gently opened the double doors, stepping inside.

Immediately, an excited shriek went up, and a figure that had been seated at the window seat came bounding up to her, throwing her arms around her shoulders without a moment of hesitation.

Nearly bowled over by the enthusiastic greeting, Aeranys could only stand there as the girl pulled back, beaming up at her with a set of familiar purple eyes. “Allyria…?” she murmured, disbelief on her face. It could be none other than Allyria Dayne, youngest sister of Arthur Dayne, but for a moment she had doubted her own eyes. In a few years’ time, the skinny girl who had nearly thrown a fit at being told that she was too young to remain in King’s Landing along with her older sister had grown into a young woman herself.

“Aeranys, I missed you so!” she chirped brightly as she squeezed her hands. “I mean uh, Princess,” she added, glancing about as if she was just waiting for a stern Septa to scold her. That brought a smile to Aeranys’ stunned face at last.

“I missed you as well,” the fair-haired princess returned, warmth in her voice as she took in the sight of the youngest Dayne sibling. “It’s been quite a while.”

“Since your brother’s wedding,” the dark-haired girl agreed.

“Yes. I thought I’d see you at the wedding, but your father said…”

“I know,” Allyria rolled her eyes. “It’s all because of Mors.” Aeranys’ brows quirked up in surprise--Prince Mors? Before she could give voice to the sentiment, however, Allyria was continuing on. “He wanted it to be a surprise, he said. I suppose it was worth the wait, but I wanted to be there to see you on your wedding day!” the girl complained, pouting.

“A surprise?” she echoed, mystified.

Whatever consternation had been in Allyria’s expression was then replaced by a gleeful smile. “Well. You stand in the presence of Princess Aeranys’ chief lady-in-waiting,” the young girl said proudly, curtsying gracefully.

“Oh,” Aeranys breathed, her smile growing wide to match the energetic girl’s grin. “I’m glad to have a familiar face here,” she remarked earnestly. “It’s been--”

A piercing screech interrupted the princess in the middle of her words, and a large mass of dark wings swept into the chamber through the window, coming to a stop upon the highest corner of her wooden wardrobe. Before Aeranys could get another word out, Allyria screamed in terror, snatching up a nearby candlestick to brandish it threateningly at the formidable creature. “Get out! Out, you foul beast!” she shouted, her voice fierce despite how pale she had gone.

“It’s alright, it’s alright--” Aeranys began, but the doors flew open to reveal Natari, ready to charge at whatever intruder had appeared. “We’re alright, Dame Natari!” she called, standing before the agitated girl with her hands outspread placatingly. “Allyria, he’s mine.”

“Yours?” she demanded, her expression nothing short of incredulous. “That creature?”

“Yes, he was a gift.”

“A gift?” Allyria repeated, her voice pitching even higher, almost accusatory in tone.

“From Prince Mors,” Aeranys explained, turning and stepping closer to the wardrobe from where the bird was regarding the three women. Immediately, he dropped down to perch on her shoulder, sliding its deadly beak along her hair in what appeared to be an affectionate nuzzle.

At that, Allyria’s tense shoulders dropped, a sigh escaping her as she placed the candlestick unceremoniously back onto the drawers. “I’d say I was surprised, but then again, I’m not,” she remarked, eyeing the bird.

With the fuss resolved, Aeranys turned apologetically towards the female knight. “I’m sorry, Dame Natari,” she offered, along with a grateful nod.

“As long as you’re both safe, there’s no harm done, Princess,” the young woman answered generously, looking more amused than not. Aeranys had not quite expected the female knight to have kept guard outside her chambers, but then again, it seemed foolish to let her go unguarded. Allyria, for her part, had shaken her fear rather quickly, approaching the princess and the bird to observe the preening bird.

“What is it, exactly?” she asked curiously.

“He’s a zaldrīzes hontes, from across the Narrow Sea,” Aeranys explained, gently stroking the downy feathers that graced the bird’s head.

“Does he have a name?”

“Balerion,” she admitted, slightly reluctant to admit that she had named the bird after what was perhaps the most famous dragon. It felt a bit childish, and she’d half-expected the response to be wry, but that was not at all the mood that came afterward.

“Oh, that’s perfect!” Allyria clasped her hands together, grinning widely. “Balerion the Bird!” For all of her previous fright, there wasn’t a spot of it on her visage now.

“I just hope he was able to hunt on his own,” she mused, more to herself than not, but it was Natari who stepped closer with some thoughts of her own.

“They’re fierce birds, I doubt he’d go hungry, milady,” the knight assured her. “But I imagine the kitchens may have some meat carcasses, if you’d like me to arrange for them to be delivered.”

“The kitchens…” she murmured thoughtfully, her hand stilling as she processed the information that had been given to her. At once, the bird made a chirp of protest, nudging at her hand almost demandingly. Immediately, Allyria broke into amused laughter, and it didn’t take long for both Natari and Aeranys to join in--three young women of varying stations and temperament laughing along at the antics of what should’ve been a terrifyingly odd creature.

Indeed, for a moment, she almost didn’t feel the sting of loneliness at all.


Aeranys would’ve been content to spend her evening in her chambers in relative peace and quiet, even if it meant missing out on the rich feast prepared for dinner, but the thought barely skimmed past her mind. Of course, that wasn’t what was expected of her, and Princess Elia Martell had invited her to dinner in the Water Gardens. Not any dinner--another dinner held in her honor. So it was that when the red sun began its descent into the shimmering waters, Aeranys, accompanied by Allyria and Natari, made her way down to the Water Gardens.

She was warmly received by the Martell royals, particularly by Elia and Arianne, and she was promptly seated between the two women for the dinner feast. Allyria, on the other hand, was seated on the other side of Arianne, and the two chattered away gleefully over their plates. The feast was already in full swing, the attendees supping and drinking and they gossiped and joked. Many a toast had been raised in honor of the brave men and women who had gone off to war, of which one was heartily raised for their beloved heir to the seat of Dorne and his uncle.

“Did the trip treat you well, Princess Aeranys?” Elia asked of her, her warm brown eyes fixed attentively on the pale girl who had married her nephew.

 Of course, the formal greetings had already been conducted, and the friendly cadence and the quiet volume of her words implied that this conversation was only for those seated at their charmed table. Still, it was not easy for Aeranys to quite let go of the courteous mask she’d grown into since childhood.

“Yes, the time it took was shorter than I expected,” she replied with a polite smile. “I was glad to see my brother and Ser Arthur. It’d been too long.”

“How is he?” Princess Elia asked expectantly, the eagerness with which she spoke reflected in the spark in her eyes.

Taken aback by her sudden spike in interest, Aeranys blinked. “My brother?” she inquired.

“N--” the older woman began, only to swiftly correct course. “I mean, yes,” she managed with a smile that was meant to hide the mishap. Aeranys would’ve played along if it weren’t for the sound of giggling, and she turned to see Arianne and Allyria staring at the Martell princess with glee in their eyes. Elia Martell gently cleared her throat, a rosy blush rose to her cheeks. The younger girls continued to laugh, smothering their giggles behind their hands, and a smile flitted by Aerany’s face as well. So that was it.

“Ser Arthur seemed well,” Aeranys answered, the light of amusement in her lilac eyes a contrast to her ever-diplomatic tone. “He was overjoyed to see Prince Mors again. He was less happy when my brother asked him to remain with Lady Lyanna at the tower, but he was in good spirits when he saw me off.”

“Is that so,” Elia Martell remarked, but the relief that spread across her face was palpable. A soft sigh escaped the woman, as if she’d been holding her breath. She had already sent off a brother and a nephew to the battlefield along with a large number of her beloved people, and it was apparent that she had at least been spared one more potential heartbreak.

As the feast continued and plates were emptied, Arianne was the first to rise from the table, eager to find her friends and what young boys had not gone off to war. Aeranys had been invited, but as she was engaged in casual conversation with Elia about the Water Gardens, she was left behind. Allyria, on the other hand, had chosen to stay by her lady’s side, likely taking her new duties with a hefty amount of responsibility that Aeranys hadn’t quite expected from the youngest Dayne. Still, it was plain to see that the dark-haired girl longed to be wandering about just as Arianne was, and it wasn’t long before Aeranys took pity on her. Rising from the dinner table, she politely excused herself, explaining to her gracious host that she desired a bit of fresh air. Of course, Elia, perceptive as ever, caught on to the situation and gave the younger women her leave.

Allyria was all smiles and excited energy as they headed towards the corridor that would lead them outside. “I want to show you my favorite part of the gardens,” she was chattering. “Ashara and I would pretend it was our secret hideout whenever we visited.” Aeranys nodded along good-naturedly, but as they stepped into the halls, she felt her mind wander. The last time she was here, she had come across the green-eyed beauty in the midst of heartbreak. She had seen her in the crowd during the feast, just as she had that first night, green eyes shining like emeralds in the light.

Then, just as the pair turned the corner, Vellysa Sand materialized within the corridor, as if conjured from her memories. She stood with her back to the princess and her lady-in-waiting, far too intent in her line of questioning to notice that someone had intruded. “Well? How is he? Did she say anything?” she demanded of another girl, who was none other than Arianne.

“Nothing in particular…” the Martell princess replied, her voice sympathetic. Still, she had nothing to give Vellysa, and so in her discomfort, her gaze wandered--only to land on the figures of Aeranys and Allyria, stopped still.

Unaware of Arianne’s discovery, Vellysa continued, a hint of desperate frustration tinging her voice. “Surely, she must’ve said something about Mors. What about--” Finally having caught Arianne’s expression, the pretty young woman whirled about, her plump lips parting once without sound before managing to speak properly. “Princess Aeranys,” she uttered. Immediately, her expression settled calculatingly, her moment of surprise masked expertly.

“We were just...” Arianne started with false cheer, but if either young woman had expected any sort of unpleasantness, they’d be wrong.

“Anyone in Dorne would be sick with worry for news,” Aeranys began calmly. “I should’ve been more considerate. Prince Mors was well when I saw him last. He and his men were in good spirits, and eager to join the rest of the Dornish host on the front lines.” While both of the younger girls seemed uncomfortable with the situation, caught between a past paramour and wife to one prince, neither Aeranys nor Vellysa seemed unsettled. “That is all I know, but I am sure he will send word soon,” the Targaryen-born princess concluded encouragingly. With a demure nod, she moved to step past them, but as Allyria hurried to keep up with her, Aeranys would give pause to turn to the green-eyed beauty once more. “Lady Vellysa--next time, you needn’t hesitate to ask me in person,” she offered, her ever-gracious smile firm on her lips. Then she walked off, her pace steady and her posture straight, not once looking behind her. Allyria, on the other hand, continued to sneak furtive glances at the princess and paramour in the distance, uncharacteristically silent.

It was only when they were strolling by the abundance of fountains that the dark-haired girl spoke up, sounding rather reluctant. “That girl, Vellysa Sand, she…”

“I know,” Aeranys said simply.

“You do?” Allyria queried, shock in her round eyes. “Well, why’re you being so nice to her then?”

For a while the princess was quiet, keeping her gaze on the beautiful scenery around them. At last, she turned to look upon Allyria’s expressive face, where disgruntled confusion had settled into her furrowed brows. “I don’t see what I’d gain from being unkind to her,” she answered placidly.

“She might not be so generous in return,” Allyria pointed out, the curve of her mouth grim.

A breath left her lips, but it wasn’t a sigh of weariness--rather, it was the long-suffering countenance of her mother. “I know,” she repeated.
« Last Edit: November 18, 2020, 04:55:02 PM by asterin »
.。*゚+.*.。bury me in the stars +..。*゚☾+