Rain or shine, still or windy, hot or cold, it seems Liane Uller can be found on the deck of the ship. Today it’s shine, and heat, the sun beating down on the planks of the deck, though unlike many of the Westerosi sailors and knights, Liane seems to be quite enjoying it, face turned up to the sky as she stands near the rail.
It is, indeed, a shiny and enjoyable morning. Now that the fleet is reaching the North (North of Dornes, that is), King’s Landing getting closer and closer, clouds seem to have taken their leave, or it is simply that they will stay in the South?. At any rate this is no important matter now, not for Lanei. The young woman rejoices and welcomes the Sun that, for so many days, she could not greet.
And the lady does so much that she has not hesitated to stay, for the last hours, on the deck, quietly reading the book she keeps on her hands. It looks to be an ancient volume and, despite her attention was apparently focused, solely, on the reading, she missed nothing happening around her. Those leaving and coming, perhaps some words dropped here and there: as a sponge, she gathered all she could.
Eventually she leaves her place, there, next to the carved stair leading to the Forecastle, and walks toward Liane.
Liane almost shies as the other woman’s shadow falls near her, opening one eye warily like a horse who’s had one too many bad encounters with approaches. At the recognition of the other woman, however, she lets out a slight breath, twisting a quiet smile. “If one could keep sunlight in a bottle,” she murmurs wistfully, turning her back to the rail and leaning against it.
The bright smile flashing upon Lanei’s lips doesn’t leave them, even after to have listened to Liane’s wish. “But we cannot. Enjoy the day, for what it will last—and enjoy that none of them is around… for now.” She closes the book and leans on the railing. “Massey’s Hook” the Fowler points out. “I have heard that we should arrive to King’s Landing in…” she frowns deeply, as if thinking, “in no more than five or six days. Well, we shall see, for it will depend on the winds too, I suppose.”
Changing the topic, Lanei looks closer at her companion. “What of you? How are you doing today?”.
“Perhaps when we return to King’s Landing the inhabitants of this ship will be able to work out some of their frustrations on something else,” Liane drawls dryly, tipping her head forward just a bit to glance over the deck again. “They’re like a pit of half-starved snakes, all striking out at anything within reach. Unless they’re morose, or withdrawn, or…I tell you, they can talk about Uller madness, but these are new heights of absurdity,” she murmurs in a low voice. “They make no sense,” she concludes, bewildered.
Senseless indeed—for if he had sense at all, perhaps the knight all in crimson and gold would not be making his way astern along the portside rail. His strides upon the deck are nimble—clearly, he has sailed before this—and his attention is turned toward the distant shore, not the Dornish vipers who converse before him.
But this is Ser Jaesin Lannister, known across the Seven Kingdoms as brave to the point of foolishness. Perhaps the pair of ladies ahead frightens him little.
“Did you expect another, Liane?” Lanei says, now frowning at the Uller’s naiveness. “I must to say I am even surprised to see them… behaving this chivalrous. And, still, they would claim to be good knights? Bah!” She shrugs, helplessly. What are they to do but to cope with this the best they can… and trying to keep their dignity, the only thing they have left?.
Her mention concerning the Uller’s madness makes her smile, though. “Oh, I do like Ullers, mad as they you ֖ are.” Looking askance at the Westerosi knight, Lanei whispers, “There you have one of them. Crimson and Gold? He must be one of the Lannisters, yes?”.
His golden hair may be matted, but his doublet bears no creases, and his face is freshly-shaven; to look at him, it could scarce be believed that Ser Jaesin has been kept aboard ship for this journey’s duration. Perhaps he has an excellent squire?
Excellent ears he has, at least, for though he catches no whisper, Lanei’s first words—of good knights and otherwise—must ring out loud enough for his hearing. For as he comes ever nearer the women, the knight says, “Chivalry lives yet, though the confines of this vessel and the circumstance of bloody war place sore constraint upon it.”
He pauses then, this tall, renowned knight, and gazes curiously upon the pair. He has been aboard long, but kept rare company, and seldom been seen by these hostages or others. Perhaps he has seen them little, as well.
Liane doesn’t turn to look at Lanei’s mention of crimson and gold, instead groaning quietly and looking out at the water, shielding her face with one hand as she tucks a lock of hair behind her ear. “If it’s Ser Jonn, I’m not looking,” she murmurs to the other woman, wrinkling her nose briefly. “Seven bless, he’s like a child running around with weapons.” Carefully, she peeks through her fingers, only letting her hand fall once she’s ascertained that it is not, indeed, Ser Jonn, though she tries to keep her attention on Lanei, only looking at Jaesin with careful sidelong glances. “Ser,” she greets with cautious courtesy.
“It is not, fear not” she whispers back to Liane, after checking and being certain that, certainly, this knight is not Jonn Lannister. “This is not time to speak about, but I would be interested to know if he has troubled and pestered you, as he is used to do.”
Turning to Jaesin, she says, “I do hope, my good ser” Lanei’s reply to Jaesin is kindly spoken. “Even here, I have met good Lords, as is the Captain, Lord Arryn. So, most likely, it will be as you said. You should forgive us, my lord, if we look to be…. sulky? Or resentful. Aside further considerations, the lady” she inclines her head to Liane, “And I myself have experienced some… ill meetings on this ship, hence our words.”
As if having judged them in the court of his own observation, Ser Jaesin nods once, slowly, as he is greeted. “You,” he says to the first, “are Liane Uller, I presume? And you are Lanei Fowler.” Lips pursed, he considers the names—matching them, perhaps, to the faces. There is a momentary pause, and then—
“Good morn. I have heard tell of the both of you,” he says at length. “And of knights and lords both good and bad, I assure you. Word travels quickly aboard ships at sea.”
There is another silence, then, as of words left unsaid.
“I am, ser,” Liane answers, looking up and, as has become a habit, crossing her arms over her chest in a quietly defensive motion. “And I have no doubt that you have heard all manner of interesting tales. Lanei’s question is met with a faint quirk of her lips, a rueful smile, though she offers nothing further on the topic of Jonn for the moment.
“Aye, I am Lanei Fowler, daughter of Marcia, Lady of Skyreach, but I don’t know, still, your name, ser? May I ask whom I have the pleasure to speak to? For your colors and looking” Lanei offers, “I take you as one of the Lannisters of…” she frowns, “Casterly Rock?” she queries, tentatively.
“And, as the lady says, you would have heard tales. I don’t doubt it. Indeed, word travels faster here. Still, and by your manners, I would daresay that you are not as… some of your companions.”
Crossing his arms upon his own chest—astride the proud Lion of his House—the golden young lord smiles sadly. It is no overt thing, no shedding of tears nor lament for deeds gone wrong—only a hint of disappointment betrayed by his eyes.
“I am Ser Jaesin Lannister, heir to the Rock, and Black Jonn is my brother, aye. I say to you: Beware him, lady. He is a spiteful boy and quick to anger.” Despite those eyes, Ser Jaesin speaks these words evenly, bereft of any evident emotion behind them.
“You are ladies of Dorne, and hostage to His Majesty; he has sworn you safe conduct and as his man I will provide it,” says Ser Jaesin, plainly. “But I warn you again: be mindful of your conduct. Men such as I cannot walk every deck at ever hour, nor can we speak for the demons that grapple for the souls of our brothers.”
“I may dole out the King’s justice,” adds the Lannister knight, “but too late, if you step wrongly. Pray do not goad the likes of Jonn, or the Stormbreaker.”
“Oops.” Somehow, Liane’s single word is lacking in repentance as she looks away and out over the water for a moment before looking back. “And it seems many of those who would claim to be true knights stand up poorly to the likes of Ser Jonn and Ser Sarmion,” she observes, tipping her head slightly to one side in consideration of the knight standing before her. “What of you, Ser Jaesin?”
At that, Ser Jaesin Lannister cracks a smile—truly and honestly. “I have no quarrel with Stormbreaker, though were I given one, he would know the worse of it. Brightroar is mine,” the golden knight says—not proudly, nor in boasting—but simply as a fact. “So too is the Dragonknight’s friendship—and true honor, I pray…”
“So in a word—no. I stand poorly before no man, and bravely against any who break their vows of knighthood. But these men are my comrades,” he explains, “and I am no man of Dorne. I will leap to no duels of honor—but if justice needs be done? Verily, I will do it.”
Then, almost as an afterthought, he asks, “Why? Has your conduct henceforth been aught but secure?”
The Fowler lady tilts her head to the right, memorizing what Jaesin said to them. “Black Jonn? Granted, the name fits him as a glove” she mutters under her breath, but her eyes look up at Jaesin and, eventually, the lady nods.
“We do know, my good ser. As said, we met some knights… you mentioned a couple of them. Aye, indeed, we do know. And yet, I cannot but help you for your kind words, and for that protection, although I do hope that we won’t have need of it, nor of your sword. We come from Dorne, aye, and we have, too a temper, that uses to be unleashed too many times. Even if now, and considering the circumstances, we try to behave the best we can… until we are provoked or attacked.”
“You honour your House, Ser Jaesin.”
Liane smiles faintly, shrugging one shoulder. “I am here, and appear to be in possession of all of my limbs. Secure enough,” she answers Jaesin’s question. “Though it is good to know there is someone capable of standing up to the Stormbreaker,” she muses, more to herself than anyone else.
“I but do what my vows promise of me, lady,” Jaesin replies. He says this matter-of-factly, as if every knight would do the same.
“If your honor is compromised—and not by your temper, but by some knight who has forsworn his liege—then seek me out, and justice will be done. That much I can promise.” And it would seem that he means it, for his hand rests in plain sight on the lion-headed hilt of his sword.
An oath? This seems, at least, a man who takes oaths not lightly.
“Do not fear the Stormbreaker or the others of his ilk. If you are righteous, you shall have safe conduct, as Daeron has promised you. But now, farewell—I go to find my brother.”
“It seems we must talk.”
And so—perhaps a touch more grimly than he came—Ser Jaesin Lannister continues astern. His hands swing freely again at his sides, the longsword Brightroar left to its own devices. As he departs, his crimson cloak flutters in the breeze off the sea, and a faint scent of the mainland—sheep and trees and soil—seems to quiver in the air in his wake. A scent of freedom.
“I cannot help but to thank you, Ser.” Lanei says, “But I would like to think that we will have no need of your sword. We don’t wish to… cause troubles to the King, or to any of his knights. We did an oath, and we shall honour it, on our family’s behalf. But it is… comforting, to see a fair knight, such as you, keeping his vows, those that he took when he won his spurs. Have a good day, my lord of Lannister.”
Liane watches after Jaesin for a moment, considering. “And they call us mad,” she finally murmurs under her breath to Lanei. “Honor and war are clearly an illness of the mind.”
“Honor and War are a part of the life as any other, and the reason to be here and to behave, for all the time we can. It is not what I would do but…” Lanei shrugs. “I just wonder if… Perhaps it is the sailing, I don’t know. Or are these men the same, back at home? Do they like to insult and offend women as they do to us? And what do their ladies have to say at this?. I curse them thrice!”.
With a sigh, she leans again on the railing. “Well, what happened between Ser Jaesin’s brother and you?”.
Liane rolls her eyes, as she usually does at mention of Ser Jonn. “Nothing,” she says dismissively. “Ser Jonn is…strange, and was strange, and I choose to attribute it to drunkeness.” She grimaces out at the water, wrinkling her nose. “They’re all strange. Ser Sarmion, with his bellowing and snarling and his sudden insistence upon courtesy. Ser Bryce, with his talk of honor and duty and protection, yet with his hateful looks. Ser Doran, with the guilt and the shame that seem to make him kinder. Ser Dagur, who actually tossed me a dagger last evening. Even the Connington, who one moment seems to be joking, and the next remembers the war.” She shakes her head, letting out a slow breath. “And now Ser Jaesin, and Ser Arryn, who are equally disturbing in their…mindless adherence to following the rules. They almost frighten me more. Those are men who will only think twice about destroying us in order to plan it so that it is according to the proper means of destruction.”
“At least, Ser Jaesin and Lord Arryn showed up their kindness, feigned or not. Of Ser Jonn and Ser Sarmion I have had enough, thanks, despite I must to agree with you that the Baratheon’s new manners ֖those he displayed, but surely just because Lord Arryn was around- annoyed me as well. Of the others you mentioned, though, I can’t say, for I have not met them, still. What is, doubtless, a blessing” Lanei says, and suddenly pauses.
“Ah, Ser Bryce, yes. I know of him a little. He was around Hellholt when your mother was forced to yield to Lord Garvys. Even if my mind was more than distracted those days…” With a sigh, and after a brief moment of silence, she resumes her words, nodding to Liane, “He is a very odd man, aye. Well, why did they come to Dorne if not to bring war upon us? And they complain about? And blame us, you and me? I could not take even a knife to save my life. But, if that Dagur tossed you a dagger, why didn’t you call for the guards, to help you? Or something like that. And what did the rest of Sers did?”. Her voice sounds really filed with concern.
“Because he tossed it /to/ me, not /at/ me,” Liane murmurs in regards to Dagur, looking back over towards the other woman. “To the deck at my feet. He asked if it was true if the women of Dorne were trained in small blades and bows and the like,” she shrugs one shoulder. “I told him some were.” Her fingers tap at her upper arm, pensive. “So I threw it back. Towards the indicated target, on a barrel,” she clarifies. “And then he took it and left. It was very strange.”
“For a moment, I was all concerned and getting upset.” Lanei folds her arms to the chest, the book forgotten, for now, upon the railing. “Aye” she agrees with the Uller’s lady, “Strange but… at least he did not try to harm you. It sounds to me as if he were challenging you.”
She looks over her shoulders, at her back, as if checking for privacy. “I take, by your words, that you have some training in small blades? If you do” the young woman grins, “so, they know. I, alas, have none. Such a thing never interested me. I hunt, yes, but just for the sake of riding. What I do the most is to hawk.”
Liane wrinkles her nose, waving one hand slightly. “I only know a little of small blades, really,” she admits quietly. “Though I’m more than a fair shot with a bow. I learned early on from tussling with my brother and cousins that I was much better off out of a physical encounter. Bow, crossbow, and a passing familiarity with a spear.” She leans an elbow on the railing, propping her chin up in her hand. “Not that I’ll have much chance to keep in practice, I suspect.”
“Not around King’s Landing, certainly” Lanei agrees with her again. “For what I know of them, they don’t like to have their women playing with weapons, but at least they let them ride”. She winks, “And they expect all the ladies to be pure and chaste and, doubtless, untouched till they speak the wedding vows. And after. Ah, yes, they have too many different customs.”
She chuckles, softly. “It must have been shocking, for many of them, to know of some of our customs, don’t you think? Starting by the one regarding inheritance. There, in Westeros, no lady will rule a seat while she has a brother alive, or nephews.”
Liane shifts uncomfortably, looking out over the water. “I worry about that,” she murmurs, reaching up to rub a hand at the back of her neck. “Serion wouldn’t be so bad, but my uncle Mavros…He’s been gone from Hellholt and the family a long time. I will be grateful, I think, if they do not try to change our customs of inheritance.”
Liane’s comments are met with a tired shrug. “Last I heard, my brother was badly wounded, more or less brought to Skyreach to die there. He might have passed away, already, but of course, how would we know of his passing? And Franklyn was killed in Sunspear, so, there are not much options left, unless they ask Madoc to take the seat, but he’s sick and…”
“...and Skyreach has not yielded, still, to Daeron, even if they have been facing the siege for months. Yet, my mother will do soon, I do suppose. What is she to do? And what would Kinsgrave do but to yield also? They will enter my home, will ravage it…”.
“We are here, whether we like it or not,” Liane murmurs with a quiet sigh. “So it’s best we take advantage of it as we may. At least we have the ears of our conquerers, in a sense.”
“For what is worth” Lanei states, and takes her book. The young lady looks sad now, as she does every time she recalls home. “Well, I do trust I will find some way to pass my time today. I will see how are the rest doing, and perhaps will rest a bit before lunch. Enjoy what remains of the morning, my dear” she offers, walking toward the cabins.
“And you, lady Lanei,” Liane murmurs with a small smile, nodding once. “May your day go smoothly.” With that, she too turns to walk away from the rail, moving towards the side that faces out to the open sea, away from the sight of land.