Every vestige of colour is bleached from the keep by the sun’s merciless, blinding glare; every scrap of shade is a furnace, every wisp of breeze a harbinger of heat shimmers. It is, in fact, a day made for the deserts of Dorne—and that is the cruelest jape of all.
For the broad wooden platform in the center of the yard has been raised for a Dornishman today; Ser Crispin Donniger, the King’s Justice, stands alone on it, sweating but impassive, a sheathed greatsword grounded before him. The gates have been thrown open and smallfolk throng three sides of the platform, raucous and impatient. The fourth side is for the highborn and goldcloaks are everywhere, keeping the commons under control.
The mood is a strange one, part festive, part ugly, and above all, tainted with bloodlust.
Some of the Dornish hostages are present, to witness the execution of a man some knew as a friend, compatriot, and even kinsman. Their expressions are dour and somber, for the most part. Ser Aidan Dayne wears his house colors in his most expensive garments, a hand on the shoulder of his young squire Danyll has a wide-eyed expression displaying the kind of awful stillness that only foreboding and nerves can give. The Knight of the Twilight says something to him quietly, and Danyll gives a minute nod.
Children of Dornish rebels are here as well. There are more than one rebel lord still making trouble for Lord Tyrell in Dorne, and Valeria Blackmont is the daughter of one of the more notorious. She stands with her brothers toward the front of the Dornish group, to one side and a little behind Prince Cadan. Where her brothers are grim, however, Valeria has her chin raised in clear defiance. Her dark eyes, a legacy of her Toland dam, are aglow with mutiny and the faint breeze stirs the wild curls of her unbound hair over her face and shoulders, making of her a strangely fierce embodiment of her father’s resistance, and giving her a dangerous kinship with the man about to die.
Nearly buried amid the crowds of nobles is Ryssa Waters, and for once, she is not in attendance upon Lady Marian Stark - in fact, the Northwoman is nowhere to be seen. Instead, Ryssa is seated in the nobles’ stands next to her mother, Jeyna Sunderland - Jeyna’s presence is not astonishing, considering how close to King’s Landing the family lives, but certainly unusual.
And Ryssa does not look at all happy to be there. Her small face is drawn and pale with the heat, and with apprehension at what is about to take place, and she darts anxious glances over at the Dornish hostages. Jeyna holds tightly to her daughter’s hand, as if to keep Ryssa from bolting, and it is Jeyna who shares the crowd’s look of eager ferocity as she stares out to where the Dornishman is soon to die.
The crowd’s din reaches a crescendo as the inner gates open, its impatience temporarily forgotten. For the Young Dragon emerges from within, Prince Viserys by his side and three Kingsguard—their white cloaks almost too blinding to look at in the glare—behind him. A lonely voice starts up from among the smallfolk: “Good King Daeron!”
Others take it up and it spreads like wildfire; the king acknowledges it graciously but does not smile for it is a grim occasion. Some of the highborn step out to greet him as he arrives—the Iron Serpent in silver and black and his wife in Tyrell colours among them—and he exchanges a few quiet words with all of them before passing on.
Resplendant in scarlet sandsilk, the regal Joleta Gargalen stands with her countrymen to bear witness. The heiress to Salt Shore stands near her infamous younger brother, Corrent, and the two occasionally share quiet words. The Dornishwoman’s hawkish gaze is especially predatory today, though her features are coolly inscrutiable. The subtle tension in her jaw and the set to her shoulders offer the barest hints of her true emotions.
As so often is the case, thanks to her step-sisters kinship to Lord Ryger, Aisling Ryswell finds herself in a for her uncomfortably prominent position about the gathered nobility. But though she stands with Lady Sylvina, she is keeping herself as distant from her as possible. Indeed, her bastard uncle almost seems to serve as a buffer between the two, and at one point a cold glance is exchanged. Sylvina looks away first, and then Aisling’s gaze strays. Briefly, it comes to rest upon the Dornish contingent, before returning to the wooden platform at the center of everything.
The Lannisters are here as well. It is easy to spot them. If you have ever seen a cat that has come unexpected upon a deep bowl of milk… that is the expression that is upon the face of their heir. The rest seem bored and restless. But they all fall silent when the King makes his presence known.
The crowd’s din has barely begun to die down when it is renewed—and this time, on a wholly different note. For another procession can be seen approaching through the haze and dust and this one comes from the Traitor’s Tower.
Head held high, fierce-eyed and in plain garb, Ser Edmund Wyl walks amidst a veritable throng of goldcloaks looking neither to left or right. His stride is stiff, his shoulders set, but he yet manages to make the guards seem his retinue rather than his warders.
“A bold one, for all the good it did him,” Dagur says to no one in particular; the crowd seems to share his opinion and be infuriated by it for it jeers, held in check only by the watchful goldcloaks.
Standing at one side of the gathered crowd, Ser Benedict Rogers dabbs at the sweat beading upon his brow with a square of cloth, muttering a curse about his house colors involving black. His eyes drift casually in the direction of the Dornish. As he surveys their faces, his eyes go blank as he reflects on how recently these people were his enemies in bloody constraint. Despite that, a look of pity crosses his face for a brief moment. Shaking himself from his reverie, he watches the approach of the condemned.
At her husband’s side, Reyna Saltcliffe watches impassively. “Determined to die like a man of honor, at least,” she says after a moment, looking up at Dagur. “No sense in making a scene now, not for him.” For all her grand Tyrell regalia—green and gold silk with emeralds in her hair and a mist of a golden veil cover them—she seems untouched by the heat. But her face is so like her brother’s just now that it could almost be Lord Tyrell himself watching.
The commons may cheer the king, but Aidan has neither the heart nor the will for it. He’s impassive, as he watches a few straggling Dornishmen arrive. A few words are exchanged, but there’s little enough to be said by the knight from Starfall. He lifts his hand to shade his eyes against the glare of the sun and then murmurs, to no one in particular, “A brave knight, whatever else one can say.” His hand lowers, touching briefly the pendant sword on its simple silver chain that rests about his neck.
“A true knight of Dorne, is what -I- say,” Valeria says to Aidan, her chin still lifted. “He did not bend the knee, and he fell captive in battle, as a man -should- who loves his country and his liberty.” She makes no attempt to moderate her voice, and anyone who hears is clearly welcome to the Blackmont’s opinion.
Joleta does not cheer the king and neither does she acknowledge his presence. The lady’s black eyes follow the condemned and the jeering crowd while fighting to keep her upper lip from curling in bitter, impotent rage. And more than once, that dark gaze strays to her headstrong younger brother, tinged with concern. She hears Valeria’s comment, but does not yet answer, preferring the solace of her own thoughts at this moment.
“I would not be certain of that yet, my lady,” the ironman replies, eyes narrowing as he watches the prisoner approach. “He is…ah.”
For as the guards approach the platform, Ser Edmund stops suddenly in their midst, triggering a brief confusion and a curse or two. ““Ser Aidan,” he calls. “I hear you all but bested that milksop prince of theirs. Nicely done. My lady of Salt Shore, well met. And Blackmont’s children too. Your father sends word that…”
The rest is lost in the crowd’s roar of outrage and the goldcloaks close swiftly around the Wyl knight.
“So, the rumors are true, they’re treating this Dornish maggot to a death he deserves not,” the Stormbreaker’s deep voice is heard as he addresses his squire, “Look there, boy! The Justice will behead him. The only death a maggot deserves is a noose. I’d even spare my sword the stain of their blood were it not expeditious to kill them in battle.”
Ryssa turns swiftly, her head craning to follow where the prisoner is looking, to find the person he is calling to - Aidan Dayne. She swallows hard, and the queasy look on her face grows a little more pronounced. Jeyna, though, grips her daughter’s hand more tightly and murmurs, “Don’t look at _them_, sweetling. The show’s out there. See, justice will be done soon.”
Lady Valeria’s remarks when a few hard glances, here and there, by knights who bent the knee and did as they must when Sunspear fell. Aidan’s own mouth hardens at that, but he holds his tongue for a little while. “Some whose knees bent had good reason, my lady,” he tells her, and seems about to say more when Ser Edmund speaks. He stills and grows quiet, hand raised again to look clearly at the man about to meet his defiant end. He murmurs something again, this time too inaudible to be made out.
To the side of Aidan, having moved a little closer to her kinsman, his cousin Tanyth gives him and Valeria a dark, fierce look. “I see nothing wrong with the choice he made, though it was not open to everyone.” Not quite agreement with her kinswoman, perhaps, but she has no qualms about supporting the choice of the so-caleld rebels either. And then a loud voice distracts her, and she turns around to send a cold glare in the Stormbreaker’s direction. “That’s who should be up there.”
The Lannister retains roar for a moment, before they are silenced by a look and frown from their heir. “Tell me,” asks Black Jonn of someone nearby, “where is the execution?” He is given a queer look.
“I came to see someone die, not some kind of Targaryen vaudeville,” he concludes in an irritable mutter.
“That what!” Valeria looks ready to leap over the railing that protects the Dornish ‘guests’ from the roaring throng and plunge through the goldcloaks themselves to Wyl’s side. “What does my father say? Let him SPEAK!” Her brothers have her by the arms and pull her back, though their muttering suggests that they are in agreement with their erstwhile sibling.
She looks at Tanyth and Aidan then, though the desperation for word of her father has not faded. “Ser Aidan, can you not make them allow him to speak?”
Looking at the Dornish crowd, Sarmion laughs, “What a farce this is, boy! A bunch of dressed up whores and the march of this puss-weeping sack of suet to a hero’s death!”
Sneering, the Stormbreaker adds, “It would be better if I just gutted him now and save us the shame.”
Joleta’s cold composure softens, as she is hailed by Ser Edmund. Knowing that her words will never carry over the din of the crowd to him, she smiles, dipping her chin in respectful acknowledgement, but hardens once more as he is silent. “Let him speak!” she echoes, “Let him have his words!”
As the proceedings grow loud and unruly, the look on Aisling’s face is one of clear discomfort. She even looks around as if she’s considering withdrawing altogether. But, she does not. Instead, her eyes go to the hostages once again, a frown on her pale features as she watches and listens.
“Sometimes,” Reyna says to Dagur with a wrinkled nose, “this tradition of last words is not a wise one. This looks to grow ugly.” But the daughter of Highgarden does not shrink away from this bearing of witness, though she looks uneasily at the platform where the execution will take place. “And sometimes, I actually agree with the Stormbreaker.”
The Dornish hostages may protest all they wish but Ser Richard Harte takes his cue from the King and Daeron seems far from pleased. At a nod from him, his men hurry Ser Edmund forward, barely allowing a glimpse of the man. There is a moment when his path crosses the Iron Serpent’s and both men are face-to-face. If both men say anything to each other—and it seems they might have—it is lost in the confusion.
“Aside, my lord!” an urgent goldcloak says to Sarmion as the little procession is dammed by his bulk near the steps to the platform.
The Dornish hostages may protest all they wish but Ser Richard Harte takes his cue from the King and Daeron seems far from pleased. At a nod from him, his men hurry Ser Edmund forward, barely allowing a glimpse of the man. There is a moment when his path crosses the Iron Serpent’s and both men are face-to-face. If they say anything to each other—and it seems they might have—it is lost in the confusion.
“Aside, my lord!” an urgent goldcloak says to Sarmion as the little procession is dammed by his bulk near the steps to the platform.
“Aside?” Sarmion offers a bemused look, “It takes so many of you midgets to move that puny wretch!”
Stepping into the goldcloak the Stormbreaker reaches out his massive long arms to grab for the Wyl, seeking to pull him forward violently. “Here, let me help you!”
Called upon by a lady, Ser Aidan hestiates, looking to where the king and the Hand are as the unrest becomes palpable. As the Wyl knight is led away, Aidan takes up the call for him to speak. “Your Grace! Let the knight speak his last words, before gods and men!” But it seems a lost cause, especially when the Stormbreaker is attracting so much raucuous attention. The Hand can be seen leaning over to his nephew, speaking urgently, gesturing towards the Baratheon knight and then to Ser Crispin, who now draws forth his greatsword from its sheath. The septon on the platform seems notably impassive through it all—it’s not the first nor the last execution he will preside over.
“Last words! Before gods and men!” Joleta keeps up the protest. Pragmatic reasoning or not, the King is violating a long-held tradition and by the gods, the Gargalen is not going to let him forget it.
Taken by surprise, the goldcloaks are pushed aside and the prisoner dragged forward, helpless before the giant Stormlander’s strength. But the next moment, Ser Richard Harte himself arrives, red-faced from more than the heat, and order is restored.
“Stormbreaker,” the Dornishman says over his shoulder as he is ushered up the steps, his eyes brilliant with hate: “A pox on you, whoreson. You will piss and bleed and beg for your life in the sands of Dorne one day. Remember it.”
The King watches the Dornishman’s approach, his face impassive as he listens to the Hand. He nods, his gaze flickering to the hostages; then, he steps forward and raises a hand for silence, a figure of absolute authority in the chaos.
Even Valeria is brought to docile silence by the King stepping forth, though she too has carried Aidan’s plea to the King’s ear. She goes still, though her brothers do not release her arms. Instead she lets them hold her up and she waits to hear what the King will say.
Hawkish eyes glittering, Joleta falls silent as the King steps forth.
Laughing, the Stormbreaker retorts, “You don’t whether you came out of your mother’s cunt or your father’s ass, you shit-eating pizzle! And now you’re going to die, having wasted your last words cursing me.”
Shaking his head, the Baratheon knight adds, “Die in the sands of Dorne will I? I’ll use your skull as a chamber pot after you’re dead. It’ll be how I honor your life!”
The foul words, shouted at full voice, send a murmur of distaste running through the crowd. Jeyna reaches over to clap her hands swiftly over her daughter’s ears, her own mouth pinching tightly with disapproval.
Having the sense—at least for now—not to worsen the situation further, Tanyth does not speak up again as the Wyl knight exchanges insults with the Stormbreaker. She does, however, grab her twin by his arm to pull him closer, and leans in to say something in his ear. The effort expended in keeping her voice low is almost palpable. Then she straightens up again, and stares out ahead of her with cold fury in her eyes.
Stifling a chuckle, Benedict can’t help but remember all the foul words he learned as a teenager while squiring at Storm’s End.
Aisling shakes her head at the foul exchange, her lips pressed together, though it is more with distaste for the whole situation than with disapproval. She exchanges a glance with her uncle, Henly Snow, and the look on his face is not dissimilar to hers, albeit more controlled.
“Sarmion, shut your fat mouth and let the King speak,” Reyna says from nearby, though decorously behind the rail. “He is waiting on you.”
Jonn Lannister seems to be crying and his mouth is held shut by jaw muscles that are near to spasming. He raises his hands to eyes to wipe at them with the heels of his hands.
Even the crowd, restive and goaded by the Dornishman’s defiance, quietens as Daeron steps forward. When at last there is silence enough for him to be heard, the Young Dragon speaks: “I have offered Dorne peace, dearly bought with blood. Those who break it wrong men and Gods both. They will earn nothing for it save a traitor’s grave.”
The crowd roars its approval; the prisoner’s disbelieving laugh goes almost unnoticed.
Turning to him, the King says: “But even a traitor will be allowed his last words. See that you do not waste them, ser.”
“Peace,” snorts Valeria quietly. “He brings us war and death and turns us out of our homes, and calls it an offer of peace.” At that, Arrant Blackmont cuffs her upside the head. “Hold your tongue,” he hisses at her.
The crowd expects more insults from the Dornishman to judge by its reaction—not mistakenly, perhaps, for a dozen choice barbs can be seen to come to Edmund Wyl’s lips and remain unsaid.
Instead, he glances at the hostages before turning back and taking a deep breath. For all the rigid set of his shoulders and the vein throbbing under an eye, he seems almost calm: “I have kept faith as best as I could. Let the Gods judge me as they will.”
That, it seems, will be all—until the same look he had given the Stormbreaker flames to life in his eyes and his voice strengthens: “This ends nothing. Dorne is lost to you and you do not even know it.”
And that is all as the crowd surges, held back by the goldcloaks, and Daeron, stone-faced, gestures to the septon who gives the prisoner a last, hurried blessing before he is pushed to his knees. Ser Crispin steps forward, the great length of his sword glittering.
“Good,” Sarmion says to his squire, “Perhaps you’ll get a chance to kill Dornishmen soon, boy.”
Rolling his eyes, he says, “This is taking too long and steel is more than this maggot deserves.”
The smallfolk may roar, but Reyna Saltcliffe among the more stoic nobles, only takes Dagur’s arm and clutches it tightly. “Good words,” is all she says to him, her eyes fixed on the platform as if she fears taking them away.
Having arrived late and nursing an enormous hangover, Bradwell Hightower is nonetheless there in time to witness the act itself, though he has missed most of the insults preceding it. Casting a look over to the Dornish throng, he judges them too distant, and simply takes his place in the crowd to watch.
Her mother’s hands have uncovered her ears in time for Ryssa to hear the last words of the Dornishman. While Jeyna gives another sniff, her mouth still screwed up in that same expression of disgust she has worn since the Stormbreaker’s outburst, Ryssa glances over at the Dornish contingent in the stands, mouth tight and face pale, swallowing hard.
The greatsword rises ans falls in a long, practised arc. Droplets of blood splatter those in the front row and there are two distinct thuds, one following the other.
“Better dead in Dorne,” is all Dagur replies, shaking his head; he too does not look away from the platform until it is done.
Raynard blinks a bit, and shakes his head. trying to clear the heat induced fog. Hearing the nearby commotion he turns his head to the ruckus, and looks up at the platform, the fog snaps from his mind as he realizes what is happening and he find himslef transfixed on the proceeding.
Sarmion has reconnected.
Sarmion has partially disconnected.
“No!” cries Valeria, but the sword falls and the blood flies and the man dies all the same. She stares at the platform, and a tear slides unnoticed down her golden-hued cheek. “This is not justice,” she whispers, backing toward her brothers. Then:
“THIS IS NOT JUSTICE!”
Benedict closes his eyes and mutters a quiet prayer to the Father to judge the Wyl justly. Any honorable foeman deserves as much.
“Oh, someone shut that bitch up,” Sarmion snarls glaring at Valeria.
“String her up beside him, take her head too!” He says loudly. Looking at the other hostages, he adds, “Take all their heads!”
Amid the throng of jeering, shouting nobles, Ryssa’s face goes ashen, then slightly green…and then disappears entirely, as she slips silently down in a dead faint. There is a flurry of rustles and murmurs around her as the other nobles start to administer handkerchiefs, fans, and mutters of discontent at her mother who brought Ryssa here.
Raynard drops his apple as he watches the head fall, and the brief spurt of blood before the body hit the ground. He braces himself against the wall, not sure if the sudden nausea was from the heat, or the sight of the execution. He begins to stagger off, not wanting to linger in the place much longer.
Reyna watches, watches the sword fall and the man’s death, then turns her face into Dagur’s shoulder so she need see no more. “I kept my oath,” she says in a muffled voice that is almost lost to the roar of the crowd’s approval and the bellowing of the Stormbreaker.
Unlike her kinswoman, Tanyth remains silent, but only through considerable effort as the visible clenching together of her teeth attests to. At the Stormbreaker’s loud words, she almost fails in her attempt to control herself. But this is not the time for sharp words or insults, whether witty or crude, and so she settles for digging her fingernails into her brother’s arm.
“Well, at least it was quick,” Bradwell says aloud, to no one in particular. At Valeria’s exclamation, he can only shake his head, “Stupid…”
Joleta watches the sword fall and the condemned man’s head roll. She closes her eyes briefly then, dipping her chin. Then, with a breath, she straightens up, pulling her regal dignity around her like a cloak.
A rustle of shock, of outrage, of anger, of despondency—that’s what flows through the Dornish hostages, Ser Aidan Dayne among them. He watches the sword rise and fall, and does not flinch from it. He looks grim, however, and Danyll beside him looks ill. When Valeria shouts her outrage, and the Stormbreaker mocks her while smallfolk cheer, the knight’s violet eyes look to her and then away before he shifts a little nearer while sweeping his gaze out to the crowd and then, at last, to the king.
Raynard continues to struggle along the back of the courtyard, unti he at last collapses to his knees, near the edge of the crowd, and and then to his hands as he sucks in deep breaths struggling to keep his stomach from emptying itslef infront of everyone else.
The crowd takes up the Stormbreaker’s cry and the King has had enough to judge by his expression; Ser Richard is summoned and a curt order given.
“For fuck’s sake,” Dagur mutters as the smallfolk turn their attention to the hostages, only to be hemmed in by the goldcloaks as the gates are opened wide. “Is that the Waters girl? Best get her out of here.”
“And you as well, ser,” he adds, finding himself a few paces away from Aidan. “All of you.”
Seeing the crowd’s reaction to the Stormbreaker’s suggestion, Bradwell places a hand upon his sword and starts working his way towards the Dornish contingent, though the press of the crowd makes this a difficult task.
Jonn Lannister watches and there is a flicker of disappointment in his eyes as the head is cleanly severed. “Should’ve hacked it a few times,” he says to his giant sellsword.
“Twisted it off,” the Tyroshi says with a grin. “OFF WITH THEIR ‘EADS!” he bellows. Once a commoner, always a commoner, it would appear.
Ser Benedict quickly surveys the number of gold cloaks, followed by the number of small folk, knitting his brow in concern.
Raynard hears the holler for more heads to come off, and finds some hiidden reserve of inner fortitude, and hauls himself to his feet. He struggles to his feet, and staggers along, not knowing wher he was headed, just hoping it was away from the scene.
The Stark household may not be there, but at least Boras Stout, the Stark guardsman usually assigned to protect Ryssa, is present. He catches Dagur’s call, and gives a short, businesslike nod back. And adds a surreptitious roll of his eyes down at Lady Jeyna, the instigator of all of it.
Boras reaches down to scoop the still-unconscious Ryssa up into his arms, lifting the tiny girl as if she weighed nothing at all, and starts to push towards the exit. He casts a look back, sees the mob of smallfolk starting to rumble behind him, and pushes forward all the harder - although with the crowd pressing in ever tighter, the path to the exit is nearly blocked.
The Iron Serpent’s advice seems wise to the Knight of the Twilight, the outer yard being on the verge of chaos as it is. Others seem to have the same idea as well, as there’s a general movement among the Dornishmen to edge their way from the outer yard. The guardsmen of the Watch are busy with some of the more aggressive smallfolk, pushing and shoving them back, occasionally giving them a taste of the butts of their spears.
“We should go, as Ser Dagur says,” Aidan repeats aloud to those who can hear them, reaching out to touch his cousin Tamlyn on the shoulder to draw his attention as he jostles nearer to him. “It’ll calm more quickly.” He pulls Danyll along by his arm, occasionally glancing back to make sure all’s well with him.
“All of King’s Landing, and the Red Keep most of all, is full of a barbaric rabble,” sneers Tanyth as her brother frees his arm from her grip and instead tugs on hers to get her to follow along with him and Aidan. But she does follow.
Joleta nods in agreement with the Dayne knight, “Yes, that would be the prudent thing to do.” She nudges her brother and moves with her countrymen out and away. “Mark this well and remember. The King himself is hard-pressed to maintain order within the walls of his own Keep.”
With a smile, Jonn Lannister passes something contained in a kerchief to his sellsword. It is slowly unwrapped and a broad grin spreads across the giant’s face. “You know what to do,” the Lannister says.
The giant looks at whatever it is and his eyes light up. Grinning from ear to ear, he begins to muscle his way through the throng of smallfolk…
Seeing the unrest of the crowd, Ryger guardsmen are quick to begin escorting away Lady Sylvina. Aisling, still standing a little to the side of her step-sister, is left behind at first, though soon enough her uncle Henly is at her side with his hand on her arm. “This could get ugly,” he scowls, and she does not object to him attempting to escort her away.
Even Valeria has the sense to see what is right in front of her. “Reeking bastards,” she tosses into the rabble as she is pulled reluctantly back by her brother. “Filthy, stinking whoresons!” But their progress is slow, and she does not see the Lannister thug approaching through the crowd.
The crowd surges and Reyna grows pale. “Dagur!” she says in alarm, holding tighter to his arm.
Raynard continues staggering along, looking up briefly, he sees the other nobles retreating, and staggers after them, not knowing who they are, only that they are heading away from the dreadful place.
Cursing as he spots the Lannister’s man, Bradwell redoubles his efforts to reach the Dornish, using the full advantage of his great height and bellowing like a sailor to remove people from his way.
What Lannister thug? Lyam of Tyrosh has returned to his seat, still grinning.
Then something hurtles through the air, particles flying in all directions off it as it reaches the pinnacle of its arc. An apple with its seeds disbursing and it is dropping unerringly toward the Dornish hostages.
“Oh, right,” Lyam says, grabbing at Black Jonn’s arm and hauling him to his feet. “Let’s get you out of here before somebody tries to kill us!” Thus he attempts to drag Jonn to safety, the lion seemingly struggling all the while.
Its appetite for blood may be whetted by the execution, its temper stoked by the unrelenting heat and the sight of the hostages, but the crowd is not bold—or foolish—enough to challenge the goldcloaks under the eye of the King himself. Slowly, hampered by the press at the gates, the unwieldy throng begins to exit under the watchful eye of the guards.
Left in the widening, stamped space around the platform, Dagur casts a distracted glance at the sellsword, then turns back as Reyna clutches his arm. “Time we left,” he says, steering her in the wake of the hostages.
The knight’s green eyes go wide as he watches the apple sail above the press. Benedict places a hand on his dagger instinctively, praying that it misses.
Valeria Blackmont has been nailed by fruit before, and though it clearly hurts when the half-eaten apple collides with the top of her head, she doesn’t pause to curse it. She just flicks the bits off and lets her brothers drag her away to safety. There remains, however, the last vile oaths she throws toward the Stormbreaker and all his countrymen before her brother cuffs her into silence and she is gone.
Finding his strength waning once more, Raynard collapses with his back against a wall, and takes several more deep breath. He can see the old keep nearby, and decides that would be the best place to retreat to, given how rarely he finds it populated. Putting on a final burst of strength, he staggers to it, and safety.
“You look ill, ser. Best find some shade and a quiet place,” Ser Aidan says to the staggering Ser Raynard, though he does know the dazed-seeming man. He glances over his shoulder again as he does so, seeing his squire following him, and how the goldcloaks begin to force the crowd away. Out of the corner of his eye he glimpses the hurtling apple, but doesn’t truly register it.
The Young Dragon’s look on his half-rioting commoners is less than glad, and indeed his eyes could strike sparks with their flinty, purple gaze. Viserys looks dour, as Ser Richard Harte bawls orders and at times personally pushes in amidst his goldcloaks to assist them as they herd men and women out the gate. There’s a scramble from the walls, as gold cloaks race down the steep steps to join their comrades on the orders of the gatehouse’s officers.
Joleta receives some fallout from the apple, seeds and bits of the fruit. Flicking a seed off her cheek, the heiress of Salt Shore maintains her cool dignity in the face of the adolescent gesture.
Relieved that the errant fruit did not embolden others to try their hand at hurling other projectiles, Ser Benidict’s hand drops from his waist. He begins to press towards an exit, jostling against others with the same idea.
Watching the chaos disappate, the Stormbreaker shakes his head. Putting a heavy hand on his squire’s shoulder, he says, “More’s the pity. Only one dead Dornishman today. Come boy, let’s see if you can learn something besides this farce.”
Things start flying, and the smallfolk mob roars, and Boras Stout lets out a few mutters that would be entirely unsuitable for the ears of the young lady he’s carrying. Fortunately, Ryssa is still unconscious. Boras pushes towards the exit with renewed effort, while Jeyna follows, still fluttering anxiously over her daughter.
“No, wait, they’re going,” Reyna says, her hand loosening a bit. “We can’t go anywhere until they’re gone, anyway. If it weren’t for that poxy Sarmion, they’d never have gotten so unruly.”
“I would not waste a horseshit even to throw back at these whoresons,” Tanyth spits out in the wake of the apple that hit Valeria. The situation is getting out of hand, and with it the temper she was keeping such a harsh hold on. But she does keep moving along with her brothers and her cousin, pressing ahead with fury in her eyes and a square set to her shoulders.
“These smallfolk really are unmanageable,” Jonn Lannister says calmly, wrenching his arm out of the grip of his giant sellsword. He has drawn near to Reyna and Dagur now. The sellsword remains back a step, his back to Jonn now.
“Making trouble is what the Stormbreaker does best,” the ironman replies, watching the crowd. He frowns and frees his arm: “Wait here a moment.”
Then he is gone towards the gates, pushing his way none too gently through the crowd’s fringes to reach Boras Stout. “This way,” he says shortly to the northern knight, a stiff arm keeping a path open for him.
“People like Sarmion make sure they continue to believe that Dornishmen are the source of all their ills,” Reyna says sourly, though just now she doesn’t look entirely convinced that her statement is wrong. She watches Dagur go, and steps nearer to Jonn in case of a flare. “At least they’ve settled a bit. It didn’t get too out of hand.” 5r
Tall enough to see over most of the crowd, Boras catches Dagur’s eye again near the gate. Shifting Ryssa to one arm, the Northern guardsman reaches back with the other to pull Lady Jeyna - still fluttering over her daughter, still abuzz with the bloodthirsty fervor of the execution - along with him. “Thank you, my lord,” Boras says, giving another quick nod to Dagur, and meeting the ironman’s eyes for a moment before he shoots another surreptitious look of exasperation over at Jeyna.
Raising his eyebrows at the northman’s look, Dagur glances at Jeyna as well, then says blandly: “Best get inside, my lady. I saw one or two of the smallfolk looking at you. They tend to be free with their hands.”
With that and a nod to Boras, he makes his way back across the yard. “My lord of Lannister,” he says to Jonn as he approaches. “We need to talk.” But whatever he means to say must wait as another knight approaches and draws him aside for a quiet exchange.
“Better them than us,” the Lannister says with a small shrug. He seems about to say more, but he is then addressed by Dagur Saltcliffe. “To be sure,” he says with a slow nod.
But the man seems otherwise occupied, and so Jonn turns back toward Reyna. “Now you see why we live inside the rock, and away from Lannisport.”
The Dornishmen begin to filter out, as disturbed as anyone might be, and some quite angered. The castle portcullis is brought down with a thud at the same time, the last of the smallfolk sent on their way. It’s almost quiet in the yard now, and all the while Wyl’s head has been neglected where it fell. Ser Crispin can be seen running a cloth down the greatsword, removing the blood from it. The septon can be seen pulling a shroud over the beheaded corpse, and a serving man throws sand from a bucket where the life’s blood poured out. Eventually, the septon has a novice fetch the head, to bring it under the shroud—the young man looks green as he does it gingerly, but he does it all the same.