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Selara makes her way across the yard, apparently headed towards the godswood. Her yellow silks are fluttering in the mild wind and so is her black hair, loosely tied with a scarf. She has a small stack of books under her arm and a thoughtful expression on her face.
Emerging from the shaded confines of the Tower of the Sun, Galwell Dalt, sweeps forth into the inner yard, shading his eyes with a sheaf of papers against the bright light of the Dornish sun. Spying his neice crossing the yard a rare smile crosses the normally dour knight’s face and he turns his steps in her direction, his purple robe rustling gently over the hard packed sand. “So what Joleta says is true, you’ve come back to court,” he says as he approaches.
Seeing her uncle, she stops and pure delight shines in her smile. “Uncle Galwell!” Momentarily forgetting her station as a young woman at court, she makes as to hug him, as she did when she was a little girl and came to him with a bruised knee or a fantastic tale of adventure.
Galwell is known for his chilly reserve and cold demeanor, but with his closest kin, he is a different man, and he accepts the hug and returns it in kind, placing a soft, fatherly kiss on Selara’s brow as well. “My little niece,” he says with an earnest smile. “You’ve been well I trust?” His eyes fall on the books. “And keeping up with your studies?”
Her eyes shine and she almost cannot contain her excitement. “Oh, it’s so good to see you! Lady Joleta was so kind to take me as her lady-in-waiting, I love our home, I truly do, but here it’s so much more exciting and besides I had run out of new books and scrolls to read at home and here I’ve met so many interesting people, the captain of the guards and cousin Lilah and she promised me she will introduce me to Lady Azalais, oh uncle, I have such big plans here!” Selara stops to draw in a breath and blushes slightly as she realizes that she’s been chattering, something very unlike her.
Selara’s words wash over Galwell like a tidal wave, yet Galwell stands his ground with a small smile on his lips at his niece’s obvious joy and enthusiasm. “You certainly seem to be enjoying yourself,” he says mildly as he at last lets go of her and smooths the lay of his robes. “And plans? Do tell? Is there some part your uncle might be able to play in them?”
Selara grows serious for a moment again. “I confess that I was hoping you would be able to help me, yes. Cousin Lilah gave me the most splendid idea a few days ago. You know how much I like to read and study… when I was younger I entertained the notion of disguising myself as a boy and going to study at the Citadel, but I know now that it would be impossible and foolish besides. But if I cannot go to the Citadel, maybe the Citadel can come here… or at least a wealth of knowledge comparable to what the maesters have in their stronghold. We could start a great library in Dorne and show the northerners that we are at least their equals in learning and wisdom.” She cocks her head to one side, honey-coloured eyes studying her uncle’s reaction.
Galwell’s expression mirrors Selara’s and he too becomes serious as he nods his head in the direction of a bench in the shade. He moves there and sits, beckoning his neice to sit by his side. “Yes, your father would have a fit if you ran off to the Citadel,” he says lightly. “But this idea of a library, that does have some merit to it,” he glances over at his niece. “If you had the power to make it happen, how would you begin?” he asks carefully, clear he is taking both her and her proposal seriously.
Selara sits by her uncle and folds her hands in her lap, over the stack of books. “This would be no small undertaking, it will take years if not generations to accomplish. I would start by gaining support from people in positions of wealth and power. I am told that Lady Azalais Dayne is also fond of books and learing and she is lady-in-waiting to Princess Ariana. I am sure some of the noble houses would support this as well, if the idea was properly presented to them. After all, a great deal of resources will be needed, not just coin but also buildings and people. The beginning will be the hardest. If all goes well and word of the library gets around, people will want to come and visit. Then we can start charging a small fee, that would go towards buying more books and paying for other expenses. If scholars come to visit, we could ask them that they share their wisdom in return for permission to study the books and scrolls. We could have a place of learning, not just a library.” Her eyes get a faraway look as she envisions the project growing and flowering.
Galwell weighs his niece’s words with the care he once applied to the Prince’s wine and spices, and it seems he finds the balance to his liking as he nods approvingly when she’s done. “You’ve given this a lot of thought,” he says, clearly pleased. “Though, Dorne has many troubles and its lords have need of their coin, how do you propose to pry it from their grasps for a library? Instead of having them spend it on swords, or a new horse? How do you make them care as much as you do about this project?” he asks not to cast doubt but to inspire answers.
Selara nods at her uncle’s words. “Yes, I have thought about this as well and I think the answer lies in something that Ser Valerin said, about a war won with words, not swords. I make no claim that this will win wars, but perhaps it will work towards uniting the people of Dorne under something else than bloody banners. We can gather knowledge and lore from outside Westeros, and spread word of Dorne and its people at the same time. Increase our prestige in the world and perhaps with that there will come an increase in trade and good relations with powers from distant lands. To be sure, the lords will need some for of recompense for their generosity. Perhaps they could bring their sons and daughters to study here, not with just one maester but with dozens, and wise men from other lands as well.” She chews on her lip for a moment, glancing at her uncle.
Again another nod of approval. “Valerin said that?” he says. “Impressive, I had thought the man more of a blunt object than a thinker,” he adjusts his robe. “You’re right, the key is making this not just about knowledge for knowledge’s sake but making it about bring prestige, and the benefits of knowledge to Dorne,” he says before rubbing his chin and thinking about it. “Yes, I like your thoughts about having the lords’ sons, and daughters studying at this library. Build it here, at Sunspear, and the youth of Dorne can gain both the benefits of a life at court as well as this great store of knowledge. It would be good to see the nobility of Dorne pursue some knowledge outside of what might be learned in a pillowhouse.”
Selara smiles faintly at the mention of Valerin. “To be honest, Ser Valerin didn’t seem to think much of the notion, but with time I hope that people like him will be persuaded otherwise.” She tugs a loose strand of dark hair behind her ear and frowns slightly as another thought strikes her. “Once we gather enough rare works, we could perhaps trade copies with the Citadel. I’ve heard that the Night’s Watch has some old scrolls and books and some of the great houses as well. But first things first!” She straightens her back with an energetic change in posture. “I shall start by speaking with Lady Azalais and perhaps through her gain the support of the Princess. Then we shall see.”
“Some men will always care for swords more than books,” Galwell advises his niece. “Valerin among them.” He nods then, looking pleased. “Hmm, the Night’s Watch is always hungry for support, I think it could be managed to trade some gold for copies of their rarer works. And yes, the Princess is fond of reading, in her way, she might make a good champion. Though I will confess, niece, you’ve won me over already, and I will be pleased to give you whatever support I can. Though, this is your project, so you shall need to direct me in what I might do to aid your cause,” he says giving charge of his support to his niece.
A delighted smile breaks across her face. “I am glad that you find my project to your liking, I was hoping you would give me your counsel since you have much more experience dealing with the people at court, while I’ve just arrived. Perhaps we can start by planting the seeds of this idea at court, playing on ambition, rivalry or self-interest, as the case may be. After all, Oldtown is under the rule of the Tyrells.” Her smile turns sly and there’s a calculated look in her eyes.
That earns a laugh from the otherwise cold knight. “You truly have learned a great deal from Joleta, haven’t you?” he smiles then and nods. “You will have my council, gladly. I agree we must turn dislike of the Tyrells to our advantage, all of Dorne remembers Lord Garvys’ time here with a deep hatred. Something to the effect of ‘Why should the roses lay claim to such knowledge if they never use it? Much better that the seat of knowledge be here in Dorne with those who can make use of it’” he frowns a little. “That’s the gist of it anyhow, I’m no good at gossip.” He pauses to consider things a moment. “I would add to your list of people to speak to, your cousin Joleta, and Darius of Valin. Darius thinks himself a patron of the arts, and would fall over himself to throw coin and influence at this project. Though do not go speak to him alone, he may like art and knowledge, but he has a reputation when it comes to women. I would not have your name be sullied by hint of an improper association with him.”
Selara nods gravely. “I shall do as you suggest. Besides, I haven’t been introduced to Ser Darius, so I wouldn’t dream of visiting him alone.” She smoothes the front of her tunic and rises from the bench. “Well! It has been truly a pleasure to talk to you, but I know you are a busy man and besides I should return to my studies. Now that I’m here I hope to see you more often, perhaps you would like to come and sup with Lady Joleta and myself one evening? I’m sure she will be glad of your company, as would I.”
“Good, you’re a woman of sense then,” Galwell says of visiting Darius. “Something lacking in many women of this court.” He rises and bows slightly to his niece. “Indeed I must be off, but yes, put the idea of dinner in Joleta’s ear, I would be pleased to join you both some night soon.”
Selara nods and smiles with fondness at her uncle. “I hope your day goes well. And now I shall retreat to the quiet of the godswood, these books won’t read themselves.” With a little laugh and a nod of her head, she twirls on her heel and starts heading towards the shade of the peaceful godswood.
“Indeed as I hope yours goes as well,” Galwell says kindly, before he too turns and makes to depart Sunspear for his manse in the Shadow City.
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