Liane walks the deck, her pace brisk for what is, after all, a rather small space. Still, she seems determined to keep up some semblance of activity as she moves along the rail. Arms crossed over her chest, she tries to keep her gaze either on the deck in front of her feet, or the water over the rail, avoiding the attention of the others on the deck.
Uhoh.. here we go again. Newly risen from his scheduled rest, Bryce arrives at the deck, looking more than a small bit of ill. The knight who is supposed to switch guard duty with the young Marcher-knight looks at the yellow and black apparition with a wince - he takes a step back in revulsion when Bryce stumbles towards the railing.
Shortly thereafter, the familiar sounds of someone throwing up reach the few in range. Another half a minute or so passes by before a slightly weakened Bryce comes back. He nods curtly to the knight and mutters ‘I shall manage’ before waving dismissively. The other young man nods, even if he looks somewhat doubtful, then hurriedly strides off to catch some sleep. Bryce looks around for the first time, taking in the scene and the others there. The sight of Liane walking back and forth seems to call back the memory of the illness, but he swallows it and focuses on standing steady.
Liane’s pacing inevitably brings her towards the rail where Bryce is holding back illness, where she stops for a moment with an arch of her brow. “Bad draw, sailing home with such illness,” she observes, and though there doesn’t appear to be any mockery in her tone, neither is there an overabundance of sympathy. Carefully, she looks over the deck nearby, making sure nothing has been left behind there to trip her up.
The man seems to have managed to stay clear of the deck, even in his state. He straightens himself when the enemy comes walking to appraise him, and tries to push the signs of weakness away rather obviously. “I shall be fine.” he replies again in a somewhat disdainful tone, giving her a sidelong glance and a propped up chin in a proud expression. He looks about to say something more but stops himself, instead looking out at the sea with some urgency, to watch the waves being cleaved by the galleas.
“Right. Of course.” Liane looks out towards the water as well, a ghost of a wry smile stealing across her lips. “After all, the waves aren’t always rising and falling, rocking the ship from side to side even as it moves forward and back, up and down. Truly, I prefer the way the ship moves in bad weather to mild weather. At least in a storm it seems they rock violently enough that one can notice it and adjust to it, whereas calmer seas just seem to rock the boat on the dark edge of perception, letting in that creeping nausea without ever really giving you a chance to find the source and adjust to it.” She looks back, innocent. “Don’t you think?”
“I’m sure that’s an accurate observation,” Bryce replies in a tone that seems a bit strained, like he’s trying to speak in a civil fashion where he usually does not. He glances at her momentarily, distracted from the seaview by her little speech, but at the sight of her, he quickly turns back. “The land is more proper.”
“I won’t argue with that,” Liane murmurs in agreement, apparently giving up her attempt at seasickness in favor of looking out to the water. “There’s something off about all this water everywhere, and none of it safe to drink. I’d rather an honest desert, shifting sands and all.” She sobers after speaking, just realizing, no doubt, how long it will be before she sees the deserts of Dorne again.
A few seconds pass by in silence, the knight remaining still. Then, Bryce looks at her with eyes widening somewhat, and he leans over the railing quickly like he’s about to throw up again. He stands like that for a few seconds before slowly straightening up again. For some reason, he looks at her a bit accusingly, like it was something she did that made him sick again. “A bloody long time til you get to see that, I’d wager,” he says weakly.
Liane remains silent, watching clinically as Bryce leans over the rail. “Aye, well. No doubt the remainder of this voyage will feel nearly as long for you,” she observes with a swift, sweet smile, glancing over the rail again. “Goodness, I should hope no one would start things up in Dorne again. You might be forced to make this sort of voyage once more.”
“We’ll.. ” Bryce says, trying to keep communication short and to the point, so he doesn’t have to think of too many other things than the waves clashing against the ship and the winds in his face. He doesn’t look at her now, not even a glance, and he says something quietly out into the wind that is all but lost except for the most perceptive of ears, but finishes with ” ..defeat them again.”
“Mmm,” Liane hums thoughtfully. “Perhaps. So long as you needn’t cross the desert. But with hostages to hold against those remaining in Dorne, I suppose you will have little difficulty in keeping order.” She watches his face then, not quite hiding another quirk of a smile at the corner of her mouth. “Your stomach, now. That might be another matter.”
Silent and pacing, like a restless lion.
That is how Jonn Lannister makes his way around the deck.
Stomach.. oh yes. Like he needed reminding. The rest of the contents of his stomach are emptied out over the railing with a horrible whining sound from the man, like he’s feeling miserable. A few seconds pass by as he makes sure nothing more is on it’s way before he straightens up again and looks to see if Liane had to see that somewhat embarassing episode.
Oh, and he hasn’t seen Jonn yet. A fact worthy of notice.
“You should, firstly, to be done with the Conquest, don’t you think?” a feminine voice comes from Liane and Bryce’s back - and it is a half-amused voice. Arms crossed to her chest, she has been listening at them for a while, unnoticed. Indeed, the dornish lady was about to head back to her cabin, even if to check how the rest of the hostages are doing, bed-ridden due the trip but, in the end, the young woman changed her mind.
The arrival of Jonn Lannister doesn’t stop her, though, and, as decided, she approaches her kinswoman and the Caron’s man. “Glad to see you aren’t sick as the others” she offers to Liane, and then turns briefly to Bryce and says, with a nod, “But you, too, look to have been enjoying the sailing no more than others. Alas.” Jonn Lannister is, plainly, ignored.
Liane saw it, all right. Though she does at least manage to hide a faint smile of satisfaction with a clinical expression when Bryce looks up. “Better out than in, if it’s making you that ill, ser,” she says in an attempt at sounding sympathetic. “No doubt it will pass soon. Hopefully. There’s still quite some time left here.” A brief look flickers towards Jonn, but she soon returns to looking at Bryce.
It’s best to remain silent, if he opens his mouth it might just.. The thoughts of the young man are readily available to anyone who sees how he keeps his mouth sternly shut. He slowly, oh so slowly turns around to maintain balance and offers a slow nod in the direction of Lanei, like he acknowledges her presence. However, the fact that he is not happy to see her shines out from his deeply set eyes and his eyebrows creep down into a frown. A glance to Liane as she speaks, and he takes a step back to have the two women in a better view, as well as not risk another accident with them in “harms” way.
Mid-stride, the Lannister halts and turns his attention to the other Knight. His smiles, that wry half-smile that precedes trouble only by moments, but holds his tongue for the nonce.
Instead he looks at Lanei, expectantly, and cocks his hip, resting his hand jauntily upon it. He seems to inquire something, though it is hard to ascertain what without words to accompany it.
If she noticed Bryce’s glance or missed it, the Fowler gives no hint, remaining the same calm than before. “If I were you, Ser” Lanei starts saying, “I would call for my squire” she looks sidelong at Jonn, “or for a friend, to help me arrive to my cabin, and would summon for one of your maesters, asking him to prepare something to alleviate my stomach. But, of course” Lanei smiles sweetly, “I am no brave Ser… Perhaps Ser Jonn would volunteer?”
“Is there much to be done for a sickness of the sea?” Liane asks curiously of Lanei, glancing towards Bryce. “I’m suddenly grateful to have so far avoided it.” She, too, looks towards Jonn, though it’s with a faint grimace for the man’s cheer, arms crossing unthinkingly over her chest again.
Jonn Lannister arches an eyebrow.
“The maester has yet to cure your sickness after a month at sea, Caron?” he asks Bryce, amazement creeping into his voice.
As soon as Lanei mentions Jonn, Bryce spits out “I just got -up- from my cabin,” and drops his hand from where it helped support him on the nearby railing, standing up straighter. He shoots a dark gaze in the Lannister’s direction and then looks back at the two women. He seems determined to hold back both the contents of his stomach and his tongue, simply staring at the Dornish women with an accusatory look. “I need no maester to help me, and I’m not sick. I just woke up.” he says, sending a long gaze in Jonn’s direction but once again manages to hold his temper in check.
“Ah,” says Jonn softly then, “so you are pregnant?”
His smile broadens and deepens: “Who is the lucky man?”
“Go Hang, Lannister,” Bryce replies swiftly, spitting over the railing.
“Of course, there are ways to help a stomach to set” Lanei shrugs. “What is left to see, though, is if their maesters know what to do and what not. Let’s hope they will?”.
Bryce’s claims make her smile, again. “Of course you are sick, my good ser. Why to hide it? No shame there… If you wish, I myself will send word to your people, since this… ser seems to ignore your problem.” Lanei cast a glance upon Jonn, filled with disdain.
“They all get along so well, don’t they?” Liane observes to Lanei in an aside, looking between Bryce and Jonn. “Though the Lannister does seem to have a genuine gift for getting the others up in arms. I will be impressed if Ser Sarmion has the strength of will to follow through on his threat.”
“Morning sickness,” says Jonn, raising his index finger…
“Irrational anger,” he raises the second finger…
Then he shrugs, “Seems like to a pregnant woman to me. I don’t know what help I might offer, having no experience at midwiving.”
Bryce looks like he wants to reply with something witty and give the Lannister a good verbal riposte, but insteads he just stands there, chewing on his lower lip and looks angry. A few seconds pass by before he just gives the Lannister a dismissive grunt, “Weakling, get out of my sight.” and another spit over the railing, maybe to get rid of some taste from the vomit or just at the sight of the Lannister. He just glances angrily at the two Dornish women, even if he seems alot more upset at Jonn than any of them.
“For what I care” says Liane’s companion. “Yet” she nods, and lowers her voice, “it is good to see them fighting each other… even with words. It is a change.” Rising it again, Lanei turns to Jonn. “I already mentioned it, but I will again, on Ser Bryce’s behalf, since you seem to be deaf, aside insulting: Helping him to reach his cabin, Ser?”
Then, at Bryce’s new spit, she sighs. “Or should we? Certainly, I would decline even to look at this… comrade of you, ser. No wonder you don’t wish either.”
“Is it a change? I’ve yet to see two men who get along,” Liane muses quietly. And then: “It doesn’t speak very well for our defenses, does it?” Shrugging one shoulder, she resumes looking between the two men, observing with curious interest.
‘Tut-tut’ says Jon’s tongue, clicking against the roof of his mouth.
He turns his attention to the two Dornishwomen, and watches them expectantly. Their whispers and threats have roused a certain amusement in him. He waves his hand, bidding them to continue as they will.
Bryce finally manages to ignore the Lannister and instead carefully, like he’s wary of losing his stomach any moment, explains to the two women: “I have a duty to be up here, Ser Aron went to the cabin now to sleep, and I have slept already. I will be fine..” he gives a small, indignant wave at Lanei’s endless ideas about him being sick. “I will be fine,” he says again, more like he’s trying to convince himself this time.
Lanei cannot help but think that, either Liane knows little of men, or she knew but a little bunch of them. Fowlers did… more or less, but she won’t start to comment this issue in public, at least while these sers are around.
Jonn’s attitude does not help to improve her opinion on him -which is already rather low- and the dornish lady turns, slowly, back to Bryce. “Then, I shall not insist. Duty calls and, despite Ser Sarmion’s notions concerning my people, we do know what is duty. But perhaps we are bothering you? Should we leave?.” The last question is addressed to Liane.
Liane glances to Lanei, quirking a brow. “I suppose we might,” she allows, looking between the men again. She doesn’t quite say that she was rather enjoying watching them snipe at each other, though it’s there in her reluctance.
“Leave?” inquires Jonn, his eyebrow arching. “I think not, ladies. While Caron’s seeming pregnancy offers some slight break in the monotony of the journey, your secret love for my person is far more likely to entertain.”
“...!” The bastard! Bryce was about to speak but when Jonn speaks instead, he gets an upset look and tosses his arms out in a ‘what the!’ gesture. But, once again, instead of replying swiftly, he just chews his lip and turns to Lanei. “I’m sorry that a Ser is allowed to behave like him. But.. my duty is here, protecting you.” He glances to Liane, including her as well, and does his best to look strong and mighty, but the only sort of ‘mighty’ he succeeds in looking like is ‘mighty weakened’.
“Stay here, if you wish so” Lanei replies since she realizes, mildly surprised, that the Uller’s keeps some interest on the men - going by her glance upon them, and the quirking brow. Fool wish as it might be, in the Fowler’s opinion. What for they would? To cope with Bryce’s sour mood and the Lannister’s… She lacks of words to define this man’s behaviour and, certinly, Jonn’s last words, makes her decide what to do, and quickly.
Without further words -on her account, he does not deserve, even, to look at him, if not to spite on his face, what she would do- Lanei inclines her head to Bryce and, as she walks by the Caron’s side, the lady speaks again, “There are sers… and sers. While most of them are knighted because their deeds, others are because their families’ influence… and gold. Worry not, Ser Bryce. These things happen now and then… even in Dorne.” With a last and supportive smile, the lady walks away the group, heading to the Forecastle.
Liane looks over at Lanei, as though to ask if she really wants to leave this endless font of entertainment, before smirking over at Jonn. “Our secret love for your person. Yes. Surely that is what keeps us on this ship. Certainly not the leagues of saltwater on which it floats, or the oaths offered your king.” She looks after Lanei curiously, lingering just out of range of the men as though debating following.
If Lanei has forgotten the words of House Lannister and the device upon their flag, then she shall be quickly reminded.
For in one leaping bound, as a lion chasing its prey, the young Jonn has leapt to stand in front of her.
He says nothing, but merely stares at her—as a lion stares at its prey.
Ha.. Haha.. Bryce cannot help but start laughing at Jonn, and soon he nearly doubles over. “Look at him, like a child who cannot understand that someone..” Cough, weak wheeze of breath, “defies him..” Pause, as he grips his stomach.. perhaps the fact that he doubled over was more of uneasy feelings than of laughter.. “A little jump..” More laughter. “A true Ser.” The young Caron knight seems to be very amused despite the fact that he looks more the sickling than knight and can hardly have much strength left in him. Judging from appearance, at least
Indeed, she has forgotten neither the Lannister’s device nor what people says of them and, doubtlessly, if lions can leap, they will not enough to hunt down a hawk, for they fly high beyond any lion’s claws - unless they are caged, that is. Exactly as Lanei feels right now.
Forced to look up at the man blocking her way -for, what else could she do?- Lanei listens, as if from afar, Bryce’s comments. Right words they are, indeed, but she vows herself to keep her lips shut, and thus, they are left unanswered or cheered.
She simply stands in her place, looking within his eyes, and recalling herself that, still, even hawks can chase lion puppies, when they are not sheltered by their parents or elder siblings. It is but a matter of time, and to wait for the proper moment.
Liane seems somewhat taken aback by Jonn’s charge, though more for curiosity than for fright, eyeing the Lannister uncertainly. “Clearly,” she decides, “You pray to the Stranger.” She tips her head to one side, considering. “Though perhaps you’re simply soft in the head,” she muses sympathetically. “Little Justin was prone to similar exploits.”
Certainly, a hawk may catch a lion cub—but this is no cub.
This is a full-fledged lion, with teeth, and claws. “Return to the railing, Lady Fowler,” he says evenly. “Until you have been given permission to depart. And not from the Caron boy either.”
“And you be quiet,” he says, his eyes flashing to Bryce, “unless you want to swim back to King’s Landing.”
“You can only budge me in your dreams, Lannister,” Bryce chuckles. “You’d be lucky if you could push me over when I’m already half across, throwing up,” he says, smiling brightly before he has to grab hold of the closest thing that can support him, his balance not the best right now.
“You are sorely mistaken, ser, and twice” Lanei begins, still keeping her calm, and gathering all her patience, as if she were dealing with a little, stubborn and uncivilized child. “Firstly, I am not Lady Fowler, for that title is kept, only, by the Lady of Skyreach - I will, though, in due time, and after my mother’s passing. And secondly…”
She looks over her shoulders at her back, to Bryce and Liane, but after a short moment her eyes turn back to Jonn. “And secondly, it is not your place to command me what to do or not, as long as I behave, what I am doing, unlike you. Now, I will resume my way, and you will let me go.”
Liane winces slightly when Lanei and Bryce both call bluff, half-turning with a shake of her head. “Gentlemen, this ship is not very big, and we have some time left to go on this voyage. As I suspect no one will be swimming back to King’s Landing, perhaps it might be in everyone’s best interest to avoid these sorts of direct conflicts, don’t you think? Now, if you’ll excuse us,” she says, stepping forward to try to take Lanei’s arm, “I believe lady Lanei and I will continue our walk.”
A glint of challenge is in Jonn’s eyes as he looks upon Lanei. “It is my place to command you, hostage.”
He glances then to Liane and, as has become strangely common as he looks upon her, the glint changes from challenge to calculation. “And I command you to continue your walk with this Uller woman. But do so,” he says, smacking his lips together, pausing for emphasis, “above the deck. If you disobey me, things will not go well for you from here.”
With a snap of his heels, he turns and goes down below.
“Notice how he didn..” Gulp. Mouth closes. The younger knight suddenly gets a sickly look and just as he is about to deliver the final insult to the retreating Jonn, his gesturing and wild behavior has gotten too much for his barely rested stomach and he promptly sinks to his knees and pulls himself towards the railing. A few seconds pass by where he doesn’t look to see where the ladies went, but instead only focuses on keeping his rumbling stomach in check.
As Liane approaches and she reaches out her hand, Lanei’s leans closer to her and slips her own arm on the Uller’s. “As said. Much better to leave the place, than to give them a pitiful show - and for free. Aye, let’s go” she sighs. “I tried to help a knight, but won’t become this… ser’s toy, pledged to his whims.”
Such a suddenly leaving cuts her words off but, still, frowning at his last words, and clenching her fists, she releases Liane’s arm. “Do as you wish, but I will go to the Forecastle, whether he likes it or not.” And with this, she walks straightforward to the mentioned place and leaves the deck.
“My Ladies.. would you wait.. I am supposed to protect you..” Bryce says with a wince, not so respect-inducing or mighty where he’s half-leaning over the railing and half trying to look at them, imploring them to wait.
“Ser Caron, with all due respect, we are women of Dorne,” Liane notes with a faint flicker of a smile. “We are capable of protecting ourselves. While we thank you for your efforts, no doubt you will be of more aid to us once you have taken a moment to discipline your stomach. We will not be far,” she assures, moving to follow Lanei.
Liane doesn’t stay at the forecastle long before she steps out of the enclosure again, rubbing her hands together as though washing them of the confinement. A long look takes in the deck once more, no doubt searching for the obstacles of antagonists, before she returns towards the spot of rail occupied by Bryce. “Feeling any better?” she asks with a quirk of her brow.
Bryce, who seems to have regained some confidence after several minutes of holding a vertical position and not throwing up, is standing near his previous position. He has a rather stern look again, and is dutifully looking around the deck to see if there’s any trouble, unprovoked by people like Jonn ( Who seems to have stayed out of the way, fortunately ). When Liane shows up, he awaits her approach and answers: “I am.” Short, nearly brusque in his tone, but that’s what the sea and being sick does to you.
Liane nods once. “Good,” she approves, glancing back towards the forecastle a moment with a soft sigh. “There is something vaguely absurd about requiring protection from our captors, against our captors,” she notes quietly, tucking a lock of hair behind her ear.
“Some have reasons to dislike you in person, my Lady,” Bryce replies and for a moment, there’s a hint in his blue eyes that he might be one of those ‘some’, even if he does not allow his behavior to show it. “It is also a thing of honor,” he adds, looking at her with a sickly, yet determined look.
“In person? Mmm. Quite a feat for a woman who neither caused any harm, nor managed to escape capture,” Liane observes quietly, voice as dry as the desert. “Though I will allow it seems my various uncles and cousins caused your forces quite a bit of damage. Just as many among yours caused me and mine harm. That is the nature of war, after all.” She grimaces at the talk of honor. “War is not an honorable pursuit. Perhaps that is why its aftermath is so fraught with conflicts of honor.”
“You Dornish. All of you,” Bryce says with a gesture of his hand, “Not you.. personally. I am still wary from..” He stops there, since it should be clear from what he is recovering. “And If a Ser has taken it upon himself to see the hostages to the city safely, then he shall stand by his word,” he carefully explains, deep set eyes watching her judgingly.
Liane twists a faint, wry smile at that. “Until the hostages reach the city, at which point a ser’s honorable promise has been fulfilled,” she observes bemusedly. “You see, this question of honor is not a simple one. It is honorable to do battle at the walls of a keep. It is dishonorable to poison water holes behind oneself in the desert. And yet we lost many at the Battle of the Blind, and you lost more travelling through the desert. Honor is a matter for peace, and for keeping it, and at the end of a war such as this, it seems few people are truly interested in peace.” She sighs, moving to the rail to take hold of it and look out to the water. “Still. Perhaps protection only bound by honor is better than none.”
“It is the strongest ties you’ll have,” Bryce says, frowning lightly and looks out over the seas, like he’s trying to spy something far far in the distance. There he remains, like he saw a vision over the water, or just transfixed by the neverending waves.
Cloaked in a somber silence, Ser Doran Dondarrion makes his way up from below decks. He releases his grip on the ladder, steadying himself on the deck before a determined gait takes hold of him and leaves him to rest at the very edge of the ship. The Blackbolt’s hand comes out, resting on the rail as if to steady himself from the churning of the waves. To the two that are present he offers no greeting, instead he allows his eyes to glaze over, staring off in the distance where the water meets the sky.
“For some reason, Ser Caron, I am not reassured,” Liane murmurs, fingers tapping along the rail as she looks up towards the sails. Doran’s arrival draws her gaze back down, though it isn’t until she sees his sigil that her curious perusal shifts to a closed expression, fingers tightening around the rail.
Bryce and Doran seems to have the same occupation, staring off into nothingness, and if Bryce sees Liane’s reaction to the man’s arrival, it doesn’t show. Instead, after a rather long while, Bryce slowly replies: “I will not dishonor my word,” but he glances at her a bit disdainfully, like he isn’t entirely happy over the arrangement.
Doran’s eyes lose their glaze, and he turns his back on the water to look over the two who speak. His eyes roam over the Dornish woman, and he offers a weak smile in greeting. Lastly he gazes at Ser Bryce, seeming to gauge the youth.
“It is nice to know that there are some knights who still hold true to the vows of the Seven.” The Blackbolt states, his voice is soft, yet his very tone demands attention, “A man is only as good as his word.”
“I wish you well with it, Ser Caron,” Liane says quietly, looking up again towards Doran, jaw tensing. “Does a Knight make no vow against kinslaying, Blackbolt?” she asks in a low voice, taking a step back from the rail.
Oh is this going to be good or what.. Bryce peers up, and even if he would prefer to look at the sea to keep his body calm and mind clear, he cannot help but trying to listen to the two of them. He even takes a step closer, not so discreetely, to try to catch what they are talking about.
Doran noticeably winces when Liane speaks, and the sadness that plague the brilliant emerald eyes of the Blackbolt of Blackhaven seems to intensify. His lips part, as if he were to speak, yet quickly close once again. He gazes intently at Liane, searching her face, trying to find answers to questions that run through his mind. At last he turns away from the Dornish woman, and places both his hands on the rail, tightening his grip as he once again watches the hypnotic motion of the waves.
“Ser Berec Yronwood,” Liane supplies in quiet answer. “If it’s honor that concerns you, you should know his name, whether or not it was your sword that struck the killing blow. Ser Berec Yronwood.” Though she tries her best to conceal any pain behind dignity and anger, some still creeps into her voice as she levels a steady gaze on Doran, waiting.
“I know my cousins name.” Doran replies, his voice is soft and contemplative. “He fought well in the Carrion Wood.” The Blackbolt’s voice sounds strained, and heavy pain plagues his words. “I am sorry for your loss, my lady.” Doran states, this time he turns around to face Liane.
A sadness undescribed resides in his eyes, and his face is contorted into what could only be some form of pain. “No words could I say to make the pain go away, my lady, yet know that you are not the only one who has suffered in this war.”
“If he wasn’t dead, I wouldn’t be here all but alone. If he wasn’t dead, I might not be here at all, waiting to travel to some foreign land where I can be met with more,” Liane gestures to Bryce, “/Honor/. More disdain. More hatred. No, I am not the only one who has suffered in this war, but that does not make the pain go away.” She shakes her head, drawing in a deep breath and composing herself again. “I hope the Seven keep your soul for your vows, Ser. Else I can only imagine what awaits you.”
Doran lets out a soft sigh, and his face calms noticeably, yet there is no way to hide the pain and angst that reside in his eyes. “There will come a time I will ask you for forgiveness, my lady, but first I must find my own.” Doran’s voice still is quiet, and as he finishes his last statement he allows his eyes to drop from Liane’s face, and stare instead at her feet upon the deck.
Liane crosses her arms over her chest uncomfortably, looking away when Doran looks down, discomfited. “Don’t ask any time soon,” she suggests, moving to the rail again, though a small distance away, silent.
Bryce finally heads off, now when Liane moves aside, since it’s time for the next Ser to come up and replace him.. and so, another day is past for the young Caron knight.
“Do you honestly have so much hatred for me, my lady?” Doran inquires, his gaze following Liane as she moves. His eyes scan Liane’s face, still searching for hidden answers.
Liane is quiet for a long moment more before she speaks again, voice tight. “I don’t know yet,” she finally says quietly, though there’s a note of honesty to the words. “It’s just-” She stops, pressing her lips together as she considers her words. “In a war like this, with so many people lost, in a situation like this, with so much change, it’s much easier to hate the people whom I can blame for something concrete.”
“It is Ser Osbert Bettley who claims to have killed your love, my lady.” Doran replies carefully, his emerald eyes still studying the Dornish woman’s face intently. Doran finally turns his gaze away from Liane, staring instead at the railing, “I remember when I was a child in Blackhaven, I use to pretend with my brothers I was Aegon the Conqueror. The stories were always filled with honor, and integrity.” Doran’s voice grows even more quieter, and he turns once again back to the lady at his side.
“There is nothing honorable about a grown man wetting himself at the first sign of blood, or a child beheaded because he could not outrun a charging horse. I have seen hell, my lady, and if it is hate that I have earned, than I understand why.”
“Ser Osbert Bettley,” Liane repeats, jaw hardening as she nods slowly. “I shall remember the name.” She crosses her arms over her chest, turning away and closing her eyes for a moment as she draws in a deep breath. It doesn’t quite hide a pained expression, one seeped with the resignation of a pain its bearer had thought was finished.
“You haven’t been mistreated since you’ve been brought aboard?” Doran does his best to get off the subject of kinslaying, his voice still soft and mingled with an unknown sadness. “There are some aboard who do not follow the vows as carefully as the young Caron.”
Liane laughs softly to that, looking up with a sharp, wry smile. “Do you think?” she asks dryly. “No. So far, there has been nothing beyond an entirely understandable low-level resentment. Ser Sarmion assures me he won’t save me from Ser Jonn, whose worst offenses so far would be…” She tips her head to one side, thoughtful. “Tossing a bottle over my head, and farting. I feel relatively secure.”
Doran winces at the mention of the Lannister, “Ser Jonn is not a pleasant sort, and his tongue tends to be sharper than his sword.” Doran’s tone is one of obvious distaste, “Do be sure to inform me if any other less than savory knights give you trouble. Regardless of how you feel, I take my vows seriously, and captive or no, and the vow to the Maiden is as important as the others.”
Liane makes no comment about the Maiden, leveling a long, steady gaze on Doran, eyes narrowed in consideration. “I will remember it,” she finally says, letting out a slow breath and looking away. And then, after another long pose, grudgingly: “Thank you.”
Jonn has connected.
A rough burst of laughter from the other side of the deck draws a few sailors’ attention; they shake their heads before returning to their tasks. A rough-bearded man staggers into view from behind the rigging, jeers and hooting following him.
Hard-bitten and wearing a mismatched assortment of padded leather, he is no knight—and he clutches a hand with a dagger driven fair through its centre. Blood flows in a steady stream to stain the deck, a deep, rich crimson in the sun’s final hour.
Lean and clad all in black and silver, a tall man strolls behind him, shaking his head: “Leave that game to Ironmen, I said. Next time, listen.”
“You do not need to thank for being true to my word, my lady.” Doran’s voice is still calm, and a weak smile comes across his face as Liane displays some form of graditude. However, when the commotion breaks out behind him, Doran immediately turns around with his hand racing to the hilt of his sword, yet he does not draw.
“What’s this?” Doran asks, directing the question at no one in particular. His eyes squinting as he does his best to discern what has transpired.
Liane looks up at the emergence of the wounded man, tensing for a moment before nothing more comes out of the injury. Releasing a slow breath, she tries to ease the tension in her shoulders by rolling one back and uncrossing her arms. “Who knows?” she murmurs wearily.
“Stay your hand, Blackbolt!” a merry cry comes from some hidden shadow. A moment passes: golden hair and smiling green eyes are visible. “There are no quintains and children here for you to unhorse.”
With his usual subtlety, Jonn Lannister has come.
“What does it look like it is, pretty boy?” growls the wounded man, his voice tight with pain. The other one—and this man at least is a knight by the serpent device on his breast—spares a brief glance for Doran and Liane before turning back:
“Here, let me see.”
“Wasn’t my fault,” the wounded man complains, extending his hand. “That fuckin’ bastard Jory shook me. I’ll kill the whoreson.”
The voice of Jonn Lannister gets a noticeable wince from the Blackbolt, “Ser Jonn…” he states, his voice losing all friendly tone.
“There aren’t nearly enough women on this ship,” Liane observes to no one in particular, crossing her arms over her chest again and settling her weight to one side as she watches the pair with the knife.
The voice of Jonn Lannister gets a noticeable wince from the Blackbolt, “Ser Jonn…” he states, his voice losing all friendly tone. Doran gauges the young Lannister before turning once again to the two with the knife. “Apparently someone lost in a game of knives?” the young Dondarrion shakes his head, letting his hand drop his ornate hilt. “We can only wish for a swift voyage, my lady, and hopefully lose most of this madness in King’s Landing.”
“There are entirely too many women clamoring for attention on this ship,” a deep voice answers the Uller woman. The black cloak of the Stormbreaker snaps in the same wind that fills the sails. Looking at the gathered company upon the deck, he smiles grimly, “Quite a lovely gathering.”
The Baratheon knight walks past Liane, the edge of his cloak passing over her head. His boot heels hammering the wooden planks beneath them. Looking on the Lannister, he bumps the Dondorrian knight seemingly in accident.
Stopping, he looks down upon the shorter Blackbolt, saying, “I did not see you there, ser. You are a bit too short.”
“You hear that, whoreson?” the wounded man yells at the group of men—all as rough as him—loitering near the sails. “I’ll…”
Whatever threat he may have made next is lost in a howl of pain; with no warning whatsoever, the knight jerks the dagger from his hand. “Get below and have Poxy Alan take a look at it,” he says, calmly wiping the blade’s dripping edge on the other man’s tunic.
With a resentful look at him and a malavolent one towards his erstwhile companions, the wounded man stumbles belowdecks, still clutching his hand.
And only now does the serpent knight turn his attention to the company that has come together near the railing.
As the giant Baratheon bumps into the Blackbolt, Jonn Lannister is beset by a sudden coughing fit. After a moment, it subsides, and he turns swiftly towards the rail, and spits something into the sea. He remains thus for a moment, ostensibly to hide the foolish grin that threatens to send his lips upward to the lobe of his ears.
“Mmm. Women have little place in pissing contests, after all,” Liane drawls in an undertone, ducking her head as the cloak flutters past, and taking a step back and to the side afterwards. Eyes narrowed slightly, she tips her head to one side, looking between each of the men to see how events unfold.
“Lannister,” Sarmion says, ignoring Blackbolt as he passes the other by, “Yesternight, I was over strong with you. It shall not happen again, certainly not for the same cause.” The Baratheon glances at the Uller woman.
“Shall I share a jest with you?” Sarmion asks rhetorically. He follows quickly with, “What rights should the vanquished enjoy from their vanquishers?”
Turning from the rail, the Lannister’s face is bland. Perhaps overly so. He nods without comment to Sarmion.
Yet his eyes sweep across the Blackbolt’s form, and there is a mirthful dancing in them.
“They should think that they have many and be given less,” Stormbreaker says, no hint of mirth in his down. His words are meant for the Lannister, but he looks only on Liane.
Liane smiles sweetly at Sarmion. “You should take that up with your king, perhaps,” she suggests. “It’s my understanding that we’re his responsibility. No doubt, like all good kings, he will listen and take your wise advice to heart.” The smile remains, though it takes a dry cast. “Have no fear, though. I’ve an uncle and a cousin who are both outlaws. I’m sure you’ll have an excuse to teach me a lesson in short order.”
Doran steadies himself on the rail as Sarmion bumps into him, his brow furrowing as he watches the exchange between Lannister and Baratheon. “These women you speak of are guests, and should be treated appropriately according to their birth.” Doran’s voice is matter of fact, and it seems as if the sadness has granted him some moment of respite.
“I would expect it from a Lannister, Stormbreaker, but in the Stormlands we uphold our honor.” Doran’s voice gains in some volume, very close to the commanding tone he used during his outrider campaign in Dorne.
The Lannister asks, golden brow arched, “Guests, Blackbolt? Perhaps you make a habit of gutting your guests’ husbands and brothers, but in Lannisport we share wine and bread with them.”
“No,” he concludes, logic and reason his boon-companions, “these are hostages, and bear close watching and little freedom.”
“I hear a plaintive screeching,” Sarmion says, looking above him into the rigging, as Liane speaks. “The lines must have become loose.”
The Baratheon looks on Doran with a dry expression, “They will get what treatment that they merit. When they act according to their birth and station, then shall they be accorded it. But when they act like children then as children shall I treat them.” Waving two fingers dismissively at the Dondarrion, “I do not remember when women in the Stormlands spit on knights and those same knights would wet themselves in rapture at those courtesies from them.”
Shaking his head, Stormbreaker adds, “What you call upholding honor, I just call pathetic.”
Liane rolls her eyes at Sarmion. “I can’t hear you. How charmingly adult,” she drawls dryly before waving a hand dismissively towards Doran. “Don’t trouble yourself, ser. I am neither insulted nor frightened by this. What would it accomplish?” She shakes her head, taking a few steps down the deck and returning to the rail.
“I take my vows seriously, ser. Perhaps you recall the vow to the Maiden?” Doran’s brow remains furrowed, and he brings his arms up to cross them in front of him. “Call it pathetic, Stormbreaker, but a vow is a vow. They have not taken a sword up against us, it was their husbands, fathers, and brothers who waged war. Many of them will never be seen again, the least one could do is respect them.”
Ser Doran glances to Liane when she speaks, and seeing her not troubled by words of Stag or Lion, he instead falls into his own silence. The mourningful look returning to his face as he looks off into the darkness of the night.
“What good does it do me to hear you, lady?” Sarmion asks, scoffing. “You do nothing but mewl and preach about your rights,” he waves at the Lannister beside him then at the Blackbolt farther away, “You thank defense with churlishness, and only give grudging thanks when knights prostrate themselves before you and kiss the hem by your pestilent feet.”
Then, he seems to hear Doran. He wipes away two phantom tears, “You make me sad, ser. I do so mourn their dead brothers, cousins, newphews, fathers, good-fathers, and grand-fathers, who were trying to kill me as much as I killed them.”
Suddenly, he barks a laugh, “Or do you think to woo them with your shared mourning? That woman only chuckles with the others in the hold at how Ser Pearse was slaughtered on the Boneway, fool!”
“Treachery runs in the blood,” says the Lannister blandly.
But then he smiles, and with a piercing stare, looks upon Doran. “But you know about the treachery of blood, don’t you, Blackbolt?”
“Frankly, Ser Sarmion, the only thing I wish of you is that you would leave me in peace,” Liane says quietly, looking over her shoulder with a steady gaze. “I do not want to be here, you do not want to see me. I will be pleased to pretend you don’t exist if you’d like to return the favor.”
Doran opens his eyes wider as his uncle is mentioned, “I seek not to woo them, Stormbreaker. The lady Liane has shown me no discord, save perhaps malice for having cut down her betrothed’s father, which was done in vengeance for my uncle as you have brought up.” The Blackbolt cast his eyes to the side to look at the Lion, “You jest at wounds you have not felt, Lannister.”
Ser Doran uncrosses his arms, glancing once again to Liane. “There is a chill in the evening, my lady. Perhaps it’d be best if I escorted you back to your quarters?”
“Worry not, Lady Liane,” Stormbreaker says, “I shall disregard all slights done you, since you so request it.”
Looking on Blackbolt, he adds, “I vow it.”
“True,” says Jonn, “I did not kill my uncle Landyll.”
“Nor did I kill the Crakehalls and Marbrands and Reynes that fell under my command. But I avenged them. Look at this woman, look closely. On your honor, do you think she will let her cousins and brothers deaths go silently into the night?”
“If you say nay,” the Lannister continues, not waiting on a response, “then she is no guest of ours, but a hostage. And her good behavior should be earned, not expected. If she speaks out of turn, slap her. Then you will have fulfilled your oath to king and gods.”
“I will not run away from an overgrown bully,” Liane informs Doran through gritted teeth, looking intently out over the water. “I have never run from bullies, and I don’t intend to start now.” Jonn’s commentary is met with a flat expression, though clasped hands tighten their grip. “I gave my oath. You have won. Sunspear has surrendered, and I failed to escape before your forces arrived, for which I can only blame myself. It is done, and I refuse to run from any of you.”
Doran’s jaw clenches as the Lannister continues his barrage of insults, “Your tongue has always been sharper than your sword, Ser Jonn. You are powerful when the momentum of Casterly Rock is behind you, but it is your brother who is the real Lion.” The Blackbolt glances back to Liane, and seeing the Dornish woman stand her ground he simply dismisses her, he inclines his head as if in farewell.
“Good day to you, Stormbreaker.” he states curtly, giving a small nod to Sarmion out of respect of his position. Doran spins on his heels and his steady gait brings him to the ladder that goes below decks.
“A lion does not wish to be a dragon,” Jonn mutters, his fists clenching and unclenching at his sides.
“Say what you will, woman,” Jonn says, green eyes flaming now, “but remember, you may hang from a short rope as easily as this ship sits in the water.”
Two contrasting figures come astride near the railings, in animated conversation. The elder of the two is short, and swarthy; deferring to his taller counterpart, the first man is the pilot. The conversation tapers off as Jonothor approaches the railing, before dismissing the pilot with a respectful nod; “Tailor your course as appropriate.”
“I see some acquaintances are being made - or renewed. Sers.” The Arryn lord’s eyes glitter keenly as he speaks; a rich baritone voice.
Idly waving a hand, Sarmion does not offer words in farewell of the departing knight. He steps away from the Lannister, putting more space between them. “I do not know what you hope to find at this journey’s end when you greet this company with such charms as you have offered,” he says looking at Liane.
“Tell me,” the Baratheon adds, “For I have not made a study of your blasted nation, save how best to kill it, is it customary to blandish scorn in a house full of your enemies and then expect succour and safe conduct?” Without waiting for reply, he says, “How curious…”
Looking on the Captain, the Stormbreaker nods his head in greeting, “Lord Arryn.”
“Good-brother,” Jonn Lannister mutters by way of greeting to the new arrival.
“So be it,” Liane replies to Jonn, still looking out at the water. “I’ll not spend all my time fearing something over which I have no power.” Sarmion’s words are met only with a shake of her head. “Either you claim I’m a prisoner and are a proponent of treating me as one, in which case I am entitled to act as resentful prisoner, or I am a hostage, and you owe me safe conduct so long as I and my family hold to our oaths. In either case, I somehow suspect you would be suspicious if I was overly friendly with you, ser,” she observes dryly, though she quiets as she turns towards the latest arrival, expression closing again.
Jonn Lannister, meanwhile, looks as though he desires nothing more in the world than a bottle filled with wine.
“A hostage you are; no more, no less.” Jonothor’s dour grimace frames his sentiment on the matter, as well as the lack of a form of address. “I am to convey you - safely - to King’s Landing. But do not expect to complete the journey without suffering some barbs. Good men and women have lost their sons. Though it is unseemly to provoke.” A glance towards Jonn at this, before he turns his attention to Sarmion.
“I trust your cabin has been adequate, Ser? This ship dips many oars, yet accommodation is ever a problem.”
A smile plays at the corner of Jonn’s lips. He raises to fingers, points them to his eyes, then to Liane.
“If you will excuse me,” he says then to Sarmion and Jonothor, nodding his head, ‘ere heading belowdecks.
“I do not want your kindness or your friendship,” Sarmion says, “Courtesy will be returned for courtesies given. Were I prisoner and hostage to one of your maggotous knights, though I can’t imagine that ever happening given their sad lack of skill in arms, I would not mock and lambast them and expect a gentle stroke of the cheek.”
To the Captain, he nods, “The cabin finds me well, Lord Arryn. It is a pleasnt change from the hot sands of Dorne and the cold stones of the Marches, my bed these last six years. Good night, Ser Jonn,” he says in passing to the departed knight.
Liane rolls her eyes at Jonn, exasperated. “I don’t recall mocking or lambasting you at all, Ser Sarmion. Perhaps you mistake me for lady Lanei. Or perhaps I am a convenient target, and should make myself less so by removing myself to another corner of this spacious deck. If you both will excuse me,” she asks with as much courtesy as she can muster.
A silent inclination of the head is offered to Arryn’s departing brother-in-law. “Very good, Ser,” he replies to Sarmion. “And I very much agree; Dorne is an infernally heated nation, in more ways than one. I am accustomed to snowfall rather than sandstorm, and am glad to set a course northwards. I would choose the clime of Flea Bottom o’er the sands of Dorne.”
“My Lady.” At last the form of address is used, if in farewell.
“I am sure you have mocked someone, lady, but you need not leave,” Sarmion offers in return to the Uller woman. “Pray, let us be civil one unto the other for once.” Nodding his head to Lord Arryn, he says, “Come, let us hear Lord Jonothor extoll the praises of Flea Bottom. They must have razed the place to the ground and built some pleasure palace in its place since last I was in King’s Landing.”
Looking on the Arryn, Stormbreaker confesses, “That’s what I would do with Flea Bottom. The place is a cesspit. I’m not sure I would prefer it to Dorne or any other place, save the Seven Hells.”
Liane doesn’t look particularly trusting of Sarmion’s sudden willingness for courtesy, blinking once. Though she takes a step back, she hesitates there on the fringe, frowning slightly as she tries to make heads or tails of it.
“Let us not say I praise Flea Bottom; rather, let us say I deplore it less.” Jonothor sniffs at the Stormbreaker’s remarks. He draws himself up to his full height; which would be impressive, were he not next to one of Sarmion’s physical stature.
“I must explain myself. Flea Bottom is a place of thieves and whores, and the bane of Westeros’ morality. I count it an affront to all men that the place exists, as do you. Yet I have not lost kinsmen and bannermen to Flea Bottom.” The Lord of the Eyrie finishes darkly, casting his eye afar to the west.
“Do not let my remarks make you flee, lady. To you, Dorne is home; just as the Vale is to me.”
“Flea Bottom is also a place for wretches of humanity, Lord Arryn,” Stormbreaker offers, “The very poorest of the poor can find no other place to live within King’s Landing, so they flee to Flea Bottom. It is not whores or thieves that I abhore, it is the stench and awful closeness of it. The reak of tanneries, the horrid animal pits, all combined with that of human offal.”
With mirthless laugh, he adds, “Oh, it is a bouquet of wretchedness!”
“Like the shadow city?” Liane asks, cautiously extending a tendril of curiosity into the conversation as she looks between the men.
Jonothor raises his voice in agreement. “Yes, a little like your shadow city,” he declares, “Though Flea Bottom is larger, and its stench correspondingly so. Yet you will have no cause to visit Flea Bottom, during your stay in King’s Landing, and for that, you would be grateful.”
“Bouquet is too kind a word,” Arryn remarks to Sarmion. “Yet your sentiments cheer me; a cleansing of Flea Bottom is needed, just as the year has turned.”
A chuckle answers, as Sarmion leans against the railing, and even so he towers over Lord Arryn, “That will not happen. For however much it cheers you, it cheers Prince Viserys more to have the commons love him.”
Looking out over the sea across the deack, the Stormbreaker adds, “Even were you to build them manses in place of their current hovels, the people would not love you were you to burn that shithole to the ground. No, such treatment needs be reserved to ones enemies. Not people we would have as friends.”
Liane doesn’t quite seem to be able to picture it, particularly the stench. Likely the arid air of Dorne is less conducive to it than the warmth of King’s Landing. Still, she nods slowly, storing away the information for her arrival.
“I would not have false men and whores as friends.” Dour and stark, Jonothor turns his attention back toward the vessel. “Smallfolk love men and hate others; they have a right to their sentiment, yet their sentiment is not always right. I can lobby the Hand, yet I fear that Flea Bottom shall stand as long as the great fortresses of Westeros. It would take a man of unbending mettle to purge the place. I know that I speak of visions that are likely to remain unfulfilled.”
“...they stink and I can smell them through the walls. I don’t think his majesty knows what he’s getting himself into. The sheer odor he’s importing from Dorne…” Arion Baratheon blinks against the sunlight off the water as he emerges from belowdecks speaking rather animatedly with another squire nearly a head taller than he is. He stands there bedazzled for a moment as his pupils perform the necessary acrobatics, then blinks and drops into a rather nice bow, even with the rocking of the ship. “M’lords.” His eyes are on his gigantic uncle.
“Men must dream,” Sarmion says grimly, giving little reason behind the meaning of his words. His eyes fall from the horizon to look upon the boy with Baratheon looks in Mertyn colors. With his elbow on the rail, the Stormbreaker points at the boy’s tunic, “Grey does not suit you, nephew.”
Looking away, he idly muses, “We will have to raise you up a knight, for you to take on more fitting hues.”
Liane sighs softly at the overheard words, taking another step back from Sarmion and Jonothor. “Ser Jonn’s short rope sounds more attractive every day,” she murmurs under her breath. “Gentlemen, if you would please excuse me,” she says, raising her voice and maintaining a careful tone of courtesy. “I fear I am feeling indisposed.” With the polite fiction, she turns, heading leadenly back belowdecks.
“Good night, sweet lady!” the Baratheon knight says in mocking tones, calling after the departing Dornish woman with a smirk. Then, looking on Arion he seems to remember something, “Where in the Seven Hells is my squire? You, have you seen your cousin, Ethos?”
His question and his finger points at his nephew.
“I shall leave the instructing of your kinsmen to you, Ser. I must needs speak to the quartermaster ‘ere the hour is done.” Jonothor bids his farewell, before returning to the rear of the Falcon.
Arion opens his mouth to reply to his uncle, but before he can suck in enough sea air to get words enough out, the Dornish woman passes his way and his body stiffens slightly. The disgusted curl of his lip is just beginning to recede as he composes his features and turns his gaze once more on Sarmion. “All colors are becoming to one who wears them well in service, my lord uncle,” the boy replies smoothly. There is a twinkle in his eye as a breeze skips off the sea’s surface and ruffles his hair, however. When the question about Ethos comes, the twinkle vanishes and his face takes on a more rigid look. “I haven’t seen him,” he says with a shifty shrug. “And I’d like to take back what I said about all colors earlier.”
Laughing, Sarmion nods his head in farewell to the departing lord. “I am sure I have him finding a horse to shoe or something,” Stormbreaker says, answering his own question, “Though we took no horses with us.”
He looks over at the larger squire standing behind Arion. “Who is this one? And as for you, nephew, what have you been about? I don’t think I’ve seen you since your ninth name day.”
The larger squire looks with gaping awe at Sarmion, then blinks, sketches a hasty bow, and makes to depart…suddenly recalling some errand or other for the knight he serves. Arion watches him go with a little smile, the rolls his shoulders. “No one important,” he says when the other lad is out of earshot. Then he takes a step closer to his uncle, looking up at him framed in the sky, so much taller. “I think I’ll have caught you in height by my fifteenth.” The squire gives a firm nod, looking completely serious.
“You had better get started, then,” Sarmion says, getting to his feet and rising to his full height, towering over a foot above his nephew. “Shall I shake you from your feet, to add a couple inches?”
Then with a sudden bark of laughter, the Stormbreaker adds, “You are almost of a height to Ser Doran Dondarrion!”
Arion laughs as well then, the lighter sound of his mirth mingling with the bark of Stormbreaker’s. “My lord uncle is too kind, and if he should admit to his loving nephew that he needed money for the brothels in King’s Landing, that nephew would give it to him without having to have the coins shaken from his pockets under the pretense of being made to grow taller.” He winks then, and leans with slight indolence against the railing, his eyes traveling out over the water. “It is good to be gone from Dorne, yes?”
The large knight’s mirth withers with the talk of brothels and of Dorne. “No,” he says, “It is not good to be gone from Dorne. I still have business there.”
He crosses his large arms before his massive chest and stares of to the South and West where the Broken Arm can still be seen beyond Cape Wrath. “I would rather I could deal with these Dornish maggots with a pointed sword rather than a blunted tongue,” he says with clenched jaw and a storm brewing in his dark blue gaze. Looking down upon his newphew once again, Sarmion asks, “Do you remember your good-aunt, my wife, the Lady Demerei. You were only seven when she died.”
There is a sharp keenness in Arion’s blue eyes as he studies his uncle’s response to the question, though he cannot help the rather un-intellectual grunt of agreement at the mention of how best to deal with Dornish maggots. The question about Demerei makes him look uncomfortable, but only for a moment before he schools his features and faces his uncle squarely, facing the question like a would-be adult. “I remember her well, uncle,” he replies evening, eyes flicking over the surface of Sarmion’s face.
Nodding, the Stormbreaker looks on Arion doubtfully, though says, “You may thank the Dornishmen you never knew her better, my Merei.”
Then, looking toward where the Uller woman disappeared beneath the deck, he offers, “You know, gentle nephew, I begin to suspect that the problem with Dorne begins and ends with its women. From what I know of the men, there, they would rather sit around and fuck each other, but it is the women that drive them from the house. And from thence they can find no better purpose than bring their necrotic touch unto the Marches.”
“I thought…” Arion begins, confusion clouding his young features for a moment. He stops soon after that, however, perhaps from prudence…perhaps because his uncle continues to speak. A hand attached to a gangly arm lifts to swipe a black lock of hair from his brow. His gaze, too, follows the path of the departed Dornishwoman before returning to his uncle. “And now the king brings them into his own house.” His voice is soft, nearly carried away in the sound of water slapping the hull of the ship. “I don’t like it.”
“Worry not,” Sarmion says, “We will not long tarry in King’s Landing. That pustulent gasbag, Lord Tyrell, will soon find some folly that will get him killed. To avenge him, we will needs return into that open sore that men call Dorne to kill more of the maggots that infest it!”
His shield hand strikes his hilt to emphasize his words.
“I wish we could obliterate them all and have done,” Arion murmurs, trying to pretend like he didn’t jump nearly a foot out of his skin at his uncle’s emphatic gesture. Then, shaking the dark color of the conversation from his face like water from a dog’s coat, he grins crookedly. “What’s the first thing you’re going to do then, when we reach King’s Landing?”
“Hang the banner of Revenge over the gate of the manse,” Sarmion says, as if not noticing his nephew’s move toward levity. Then, looking at Arion, his visage softens and he smiles, albeit ruefully. “Then, I shall buy a brothel. I plan to take some men that served me in the Marches as my household guard. They have been long at rapine and the slaughter. They should have clean women to ween them off their bloody habits…”
He lets that hang in the air between them for a moment, then Stormbreaker adds, “At a discount.” Nodding his head towards where Lord Arryn wandered off, he offers in a hushed voice, “Best keep that a secret from our goodly captain. He is more tightly wound than a ballista.”
Arion mimes locking his lips with a key and tossing said key over the edge of the vessel to disappear in the froth below. He’s smiling though, seeming genuinely pleased that his uncle has taken even some small step away from darker thoughts. “I’m sure they’ll be pleased to be with real women once more,” the boy offers with a nod and a rueful glances toward the hatch leading belowdecks. “I wish Ser Leobald felt the same about his men. Maybe you could talk to him…you know, present the idea. He might like it.” He shoots his uncle a hopeful glance.
“His men are welcome to enjoy the place, as well,” Sarmion offers with a shrug, “But not the discount. I know not what quality of man Ser Leobald employs, nor what manner of poxy whore they have enjoyed. I would not trust them not to polute the women at my brothel and so much pay the fuller price to ensure the safety of my men.”
Shaking his head, though, he adds, “I see no reason to speak with him about it. Let him do for them as follow him as they may. You would know better what manner of Knight he is.”
Arion eyes his uncle for a long moment, then bursts out laughing. “That had nothing to do with Ser Leobald and his men, uncle. I was trying to get you to help me a discounted ride between a woman’s legs. But I can see I shall have to rely on my own resources. I shall simply disguise myself as a member of your household guard.”
Scoffing, Sarmion makes a dismissive backhanded wave with his hand, “You need no discount, unless you fear your father finding out how it is you spend your coin when you have spent it all on whoring. But I am not like to tell him.”
Looking skeptically on the boy, Stormbreaker asks, “Have you been yet bloodied in the wars? If so, it is time that you have bedded some woman.”
Arion gets some spots of color on his cheeks, and rolls his shoulders, looking back out to sea for a moment. “Yes,” he tells the waves, responding to his uncle’s question. “I’ve been bloodied.” He certainly doesn’t look like he has. “Anyway…I should, um…go see if unc…Ser Leobald needs me. With your permission, of course.” He bows his head Sarmion’s way, studying the deck between his feet.
Laughing, Sarmion playfully pushes Arion’s head toward the stairs, “You liar! Go and serve your knight!”