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Sites of Interest
For Want of a Sandsteed
IC Date: Day 16 of Month 3, 158 AC.
RL Date: December 15, 2006.
Participants: Carmella Dondarrion, Doran Dondarrion, called Blackbolt, Harold Kenning, Jaesin Lannister, Liane Uller and Serion Uller.
Locations: Red Keep: Stableyard and Red Keep: Stables.

Summary: A couple of hostages are attempting to find a suitable mount, but none seem to compare with the famed sandsteeds. The Blackbolt again attempts to make amends with his sister.
Red Keep: Stableyard

The stableyard is generally a busy place, and this afternoon is no exception. Knights coming in from practice at the quintain mingle with women coming in from shopping trips and stableboys darting through the whole arrangement. In one corner of the yard, Liane is testing yet another of the mounts of the royal stables, trying still to find one that suits. The current attempt is a smallish mare who moves lightly, if with little real spirit behind the movements, a rather unremarkable shade of bay in color. The Dornishwoman aboard her is starting to look frustrated as she weaves the mare between hitching posts at a stately trot.

Amid the coming and going of horses and riders, one such pairing stands out from the rest—a tall, golden knight all in crimson and gold atop a mighty white destrier. Few there are in all King’s Landing who do not recognize Ser Jaesin Lannister by sight; the stablehands certainly do, for they emerge in a rush to await his horse.

His mighty steed enters the stableyard from the citadel’s outer yard, and afore then perhaps the crowded streets, and even beyond the walls: both seem a trifle dusty and mildly winded. They have the sort of look to them that one gains after some exertion.

Against a hitching post—one of those around which Liane’s mount trots and winds—leans a young man, lean and lanky. He, too, wears red and gold—but his garb bears a more…Southern…cut than that of the famous Lannister.

Arms crossed over his chest, bored featured turned toward the stables, he wrinkles his nose and calls out—ostensibly to the Uller maid, though he does not turn to look at her: “She’s too dull-witted. Too slow.”

“I’m very sorry for his behavior,” Carmella says, emerging from the stables with a young groom at her side. The boy can be no more than ten or eleven, new to his trade, but he looks a little scared when he looks up at the Dondarrion girl. Obviously her reassurances over some slight are doing little to soothe the boy. “It was ill of him, to be certain and I’ll see that someone else is set to the task of seeing to his mount.” That brings a little smile from the boy who murmurs a thanks and drops a clumsy bow as well. With a laugh the dark-haired girl drops her fingers lightly to the boy’s shoulder and shooes him off to his work, watching him race back into the stables before she turns and heads further into the yard.

She’s quick to stop at the commotion caused by the Lannister’s arrival, though. Her eyes unable to miss the man in the crimson in gold or the attention he gains from the stablehands. She watches him curiously for a moment, but with a gaze that slowly narrows. Her luck with Lannisters isn’t what one might call favorable.

With little reliance on the reins, Ser Jaesin guides his horse at a slow, contented walk into the waiting care of a stableboy. Those leather cords, superfluous to a masterful rider, are tossed carelessly into the hands of the lad as the knight frees his boots from the stirrups.

With a casual gallantry that seems second nature to him, the Lannister lordling leaps down from the saddle and tosses the boy an entire silver stag.

The coin is caught and gladly, and the boy receives a friendly smile as the knight turns back toward the more courtly yards. The sight of Liane Uller astride a great horse catches his glance, however, and he pauses to watch.

“They all are,” Liane calls back to the young man at the post, weaving one more line before pulling up and slipping off next to him. “At least the ones they’re willing to lend us. I’m of half a mind to take the damned reaver up on his offer to find a decent sandsteed.” Despite her words, she reaches up to tangle her fingers in the mare’s mane, giving her a brief scratch. “Ah, well. Like most women here, aren’t you?” she murmurs to the horse before handing her off to one of the boys with a smile of thanks, tipping her head to one side as she catches sight of Carmella. “Not all, though,” she muses, half to herself.

Some word the Dornish lady speaks strikes a note of distaste in the Lannister’s mind; his eyes narrow and his handsome mouth turns to a scowl. “It might serve you better to avoid any dealings with… reavers, Liane Uller,” Ser Jaesin calls to the woman as he begins to make his way from the stableyard.

“There may be ‘ironmen’ in King’s Landing today,” he advises her, “but as for tomorrow—who can say?”

“There’s one here who knows the meaning of a decent mount?” A snort accompanies the younger Uller’s ill-humored words as he cocks his head toward his sister. “You’ll have to make an introduction for—”

He breaks off, turning his head sharply toward the Lannister. “Who’s that?” he asks—more quietly, to be sure, but loud enough Liane might hear. And others.

Carmella watches the famed knight’s treatment of the hands and one dark brow arches curiously as she sees the silver tossed away. Huh. That obviously was unexpected. Her dark gaze wanders across the yard when the Lannister’s attention is diverted and a smile creeps towards her lips as she spots a familiar face. Unfortunately she picks up a little of what Lady Liane has said and that smile is quick to disappear. “Can he promise that his steeds would even be worth the coin you pay for them, I wonder?” Carmella asks, wandering over towards Liane and Serion.

“No, probably not,” Liane admits at her brother’s words, extending them to Carmella with a rueful smile. “Most likely he’d show up with some swaybacked old nag and say he couldn’t tell the difference.” Her chin rises towards the Lannister then, unconsciously brushing horsehair from her robes when faced with the golden knight. “Ser Jaesin Lannister,” she greets him, letting the greeting suffice as answer to Serion’s question. “Wise advice, no doubt. And there’s still time, after all. The city isn’t much of a place for spirited rides.”

Those keen blue eyes noting faces, if not names—when she speaks, he notes Carmella’s presence momentarily, but this young Dornishman receives a moment more—Ser Jaesin’s scowl is replaced by his more typical smile. If a wry one.

“Flea Bottom is only said to be dangerous,” he laughs, “by those who do not know the Red Keep.” Nodding slightly, he says, “Good day to all of you.”

And with that he continues along his way, back toward immaculate lawns and paved pathways of the outer yards.

“Most likely,” Serion agrees with a wry look, pushing himself away from the hitching post with a light kick. “But if he could find a /fast/ horse…”

A wistful hint lights on his voice for a moment—a brief moment. And then, raising a voice empty of all save varnished politeness, he adds toward the knight’s back: “Good day, Ser Jaesin!”

Again Carmella regards Ser Jaesin with a look of some uncertainty, but without the wariness she briefly afforded on his arrival. The comment draws another smile from the lady and a touch of laughter. “The knight speaks truly,” she murmurs to no one in particular as she turns back towards Liane, though it doesn’t stop her from glancing at the slender Dornishman in her company. “You’ve not yet found a mount to your liking then, Lady Liane?” Her dark eyes glance at the horse in question, but she keeps her opinion mute, if she has one at all.

Liane shakes her head to Carmella, grimacing briefly. “I’m sure there /are/ suitable mounts, but…” She casts a dry look towards Serion. “Well, I can imagine what they expect we would want from fast or spirited horses. Regardless of the likelihood of any of us getting very far even if we did break our word and run.” She brushes herself off again, then straightens, clearing her throat. “Lady Carmella, this is my brother, Serion. Serion, this is Lady Carmella Dondarrion. Her mother is one of the Yronwood aunts.”

“It’d be too much a kindness, no doubt: a fleeing horse, an arrow in the back. Yes. Too much a kindness.”

Bitter words from one so young—one nearly expects a hint of humorous expression to accompany them. But there is none.

The only smile that invades Serion’s soured features is flat and forced—but honestly forced—and offered toward Carmella. “M’lady. A pleasure. In a world where the Yronwood tree has been so sharply pruned…”

He trails off, offers a short and shallow bow. And flatly: “A pleasure.”

“You mean, they believe you would try and escape?” The question comes with mock innocence, her face betraying the teasing nature intended in the words. A sigh follows, as well as a shake of the head. “I’m afraid I’ve never been astride a sandsteed, only my mare who was bred for sure-footedness in the mountain passages around Blackhaven. I imagine she would likely be as poor a fit to you as this one here,” Carmella says, indicating the bay Liane is currently riding.

She looks to Serion again, a smile ready, only to be met with a less than enthusiastic greeting from the male Uller. But she remembers her courtesies and drops into a curtsey to match his bow, her words warm. “A pleasure to finally meet you, Serion,” she says as she rises. “But yes, my mother’s kin suffered a great loss, I am sorry to say,” she adds, her voice low and the smile gone.

Liane casts a weary look of concern towards her brother’s dour proclamations, though she doesn’t comment on them. Instead, she turns a measuring eye towards the horses in the yard, some thought slowly dawning in her eyes. “Not many here have had a chance to get to know the sandsteeds. Lady Carmella, you’re one of the Princess Daena’s ladies, aren’t you?” she asks out of the blue, looking back towards the other woman as a smile starts to grow. “You mentioned what a…spirited rider she was.”

His sister’s weary look goes, as always, entirely unheeded by the younger Uller. But it is her prerogative to offer them. “Yes,” he says shortly. “A great loss.”

And yet, that seems the end of it. He falls silent, allowing Liane to carry the conversation in, perhaps, a more pleasant direction; but his mahogany eyes remain, if not on Carmella, then on something not far behind her.

Carmella doesn’t answer immediately, the question seems to have caught her off-guard. “Yes, you are correct, on both counts,” Carmella answers, though the spirited remark draws the bigger reaction from the Dondarrion, almost a wince. “The princess, even at her young age, is a talented horsewoman and her skills far exceed my own. I’ll not lie, I have learned more about riding since I’ve been in her company, but the lessons are not so much lessons as they are attempts to remain in the saddle to keep up with her when we go riding. I have a feeling you’d be a more able rider in her company than I currently am, Lady Liane.”

Liane shrugs off the mention of her own riding abilities, but she seems rather taken with her own idea. “Perhaps the princess might appreciate the use of a sandsteed,” she suggests with a faint smile. “And if the princess were to be seen with such a mount, then perhaps it might start something of a fashion here.” She leans against one of the hitching posts, echoing Serion’s earlier posture. “A chance to garner some goodwill, perhaps, and if not, then some trade.” A sidelong glance is cast towards Serion, looking for his thoughts on the matter.

“If it’s she’s so much a spirited rider,” Serion’s words follow shortly after Liane’s, though he does not so much as glance her way. “A spirited mount would do her justice. No doubt her bro—”

He cuts himself off, tight smile tugging his features unnaturally. And blandly, he finishes: “Yes. A proper gift. But from what you say, it wouldn’t be a kindness to the lady here.”

Carmella’s response is dubious at best. “I will certainly make mention of it to her, Lady Liane. Whether she’ll consider it or not is a different matter altogether. And even then, she is yet just a girl. Even if she wishes it, the decision would be left to her uncle, Prince Viserys.” As if realizing how negative she’s sounding Carmella makes attempts to lighten it somewhat. “But one cannot know unless one asks and I’ll certainly speak to the Princess of your idea. I think the challenge alone might appeal to her, even if the possibilities and trade and goodwill are completely disregarded.”

Once again Carmella’s easy smile is tempered by Serion’s words and her dark eyes swing over to study him. “Perhaps not now, but I don’t easily back down from a challenge and I’m not against improving myself.” She’s starting to sound more determined and there seems to be little doubt now that Princess Daena will hear of this suggestion.

“Mother bless, Serion, it’s hard enough to have a conversation about riding without someone implying something else about it without /you/ starting to do the same,” Liane says with some exasperation, reaching out to try to flick his ear. “Just a suggestion, really, Lady Carmella,” she says afterwards, smile faint. “From everything I hear of the princess, it simply struck me that she might be interested. You’re doing all right keeping up, though?” she asks, more solicitous.

A hand flies to Serion’s ear as his sister gives it a flick—a motion from which he does not dodge until after the deed is accomplished. He rubs it gently. “I was just /saying/,” he mutters, a dark look turned to Liane, “He’ll likely bring as much back with him.” Of course he was.

“It cannot hurt to pass on the suggestion, it is the outcome that I have no control over,” Carmella offers with a faint smile. “As for my own riding, I am doing well enough that the Princess hasn’t given up on me yet. I suppose that’s promising. She’s still focused on teaching Lady Reyna and I the fine art of jousting, for which I am less enthusiastic, but there is also some curiousity that wishes to be sated.” She gives a little shrug. “I’ve been working on riding without the reigns, but that is, I fear, slow going.”

Liane watches Serion a moment longer, then nods, turning back to Carmella with a wry smile. “I think I may have to stop by and watch that one of these days,” she chuckles softly. “I used to think of trying it when I was younger, but Berec, Utheryn, and Joss had a tendency to discourage it, if only because they were already spending most of their free time working on it and wanted to do something else.”

“Ought to let my sister teach you a bit, Lady Carmella,” Serion interjects suddenly—and, for a moment, without the faintest hint of bitterness. “I’d offer myself—but it wouldn’t be a kindness.”

A brilliant white palfrey trumpets loudly as he is lead into the stableyard by the Blackbolt of Blackhaven. For those that know the Dondarrion knight, it is obvious this equine does not belong to him. He holds tight the reins as he walks with firm steady strides towards the stables, giving pause as he takes notice of the small gathering that lies in his path. A weak smile is donned after a moment, before the marcher knight continues his strides towards the group that now converses.

Carmella holds up both hands and takes a step back while fighting a smile. “Please, this is a one-time event, of that I can assure you. It is enough that my ego will be likely bruised in the end, but I’ll be suffering real ones as well. I’m not sure which will be worse,” she muses as her hands fall to her sides. Again she looks to Serion and her lips twist into a semi-frown. “I’d not turn down any help anyone is willing to give me, Serion. The Seven know that I need more than enough of it.” Is that a suggestion or just a general weak plea? Her mouth opens to say more, but her brother’s arrival has her jaw snapping shut and her expression darkens; the amusement over Princess Daena’s games is gone.

“I’ll gladly teach you what I can, Lady Carmella,” Liane offers with a swift, small smile. “At the least I would feel less self-conscious taking a horse out for a ride in the yard here if I had a real purpose.” Ser Doran’s arrival draws her attention, though Carmella’s reaction to the arrival distracts her, brows furrowing slightly. After a moment, she draws a breath, shaking her head as she composes another small smile. “Ser Doran,” she greets with a nod.

Ser Doran’s arrival brings a lull to the conversation as the ladies look toward him—and in good time, too. But Serion seems oblivious to it: “I think there’s no help I could offer, m’lady,” he says, darkness again creeping into his tone. “Save advice. And Liane tells me I give it too poorly.”

Only his sister’s greeting to the Blackbolt draws the young man’s attention, and he cocks his head—but does not look toward the knight. “Ser Doran?” he asks, softly.

The Blackbolt stops as he nears the gathering, and his greeting is given in form of an elegant bow. “My lady of Uller.” He speaks softly, his voice barely above a whisper. “Our paths crossing once again gives a warmth in my heart that the sun would be hard pressed to match.” Ser Doran’s words are the very epitome of gallantry, an obvious testament that this marcher knight takes his courtesy seriously.

The Sworn Shield of Prince Baelor turns his gaze finally to his sister, and offers her the same courtesy in a formal bow. “My lady sister.” His voice still has not gained any volume, and the stomping of the steed he holds in tow almost drowns out his voice. “Your beauty will soon rival mothers.” He recovers from his bow, turning his eyes to the man that states his name, awaiting introductions.

“My brother, the Blackbolt,” Carmella says, her voice low but directed towards Serion, loud enough so that he might hear. If he’s familiar with some of the battles of the Conquest and the deaths in the Yronwood family he might have heard the name before. But unlike many siblings, Carmella doesn’t seem entirely proud of the fact. She keeps her gaze elsewhere and with the various styles of activity in the yard that isn’t all that difficult.

With Doran’s approach her attitude doesn’t change overly much, but she does put on a more public face and treat her brother with courtesy. Considering her last outburst in public in his presence, she’s improved a great deal. Her curtsey is smooth but her eyes never entirely meet his. “As always, my brother is far too kind with his silvered tongue.”

“Ser Doran Dondarrion, Lady Carmella’s brother,” Liane supplies for Serion in a lower voice. “And I didn’t say that,” she adds for his other comment before clearing her throat to provide a more proper introduction. “My brother, Serion,” she notes for Doran, reaching out to try to brush her fingers over her brother’s shoulder in indication. A glimmer of understanding lights her eyes at Carmella’s description of her brother, though she makes no comment.

At the brush of his sister’s fingers on his shoulder, Serion finally turns toward the newcome knight—or, nearly. “Ah. The Blackbolt!” he exclaims darkly, left eye narrowing. “A name not unfamiliar—and now a face put to it. A pleasure, /certainly/.”

Indeed.

Doran’s eyes are drawn to a stable boy who comes dutifully to relieve him of the white palfrey that he has guided into the yard. The marcher knight hands the reins to the stable hand, allowing the boy to lead the mount off into the Targaryen’s place of boarding. “Thank you.” He offers the low born, before turning his emerald gaze on Serion. A long moment of silence takes the Dondarrion knight as he sizes up the Uller youth. “An honor, Serion.” Doran states, taking note that knighthood has not been blessed by the brother of Liane. “I hope that you are finding King’s Landing hospitable?”

The Blackbolt of Blackhaven casts a glance at Carmella, taking notice that his sister avoids his gaze. “I will apologize to you both, but I must have a word with my sister. May I steal the wonder of her company for a brief moment?”

Harold enters from the Outer Yard, his reins in hand and a fine chestnut steed attached. He slows as he sees the crowd before the stables, and motions forward his retainer, an older man with gray mutton chops, who had been walking beside him. Harold offers him the reins, and says in a low voice, “Thank you, Wilton.”

Carmella chokes back a sour laugh at her brother’s comments towards Serion, hearing the hope though she’s still not looking in his direction. That changes when Doran makes the request of the Dornish hostages and immediately she looks ready to go on the defensive, having a good idea what this may be about. With a sigh and a roll of her eyes and looks to her brother briefly and then to the Uller siblings. “Excuse me, Lady Liane, Serion, this won’t take but a minute, I can assure you.” She even forces a quick smile before she moves past them, towards her brother. “Has Ser Amond been telling tales again?” Carmella asks the question with a heavy dose of false sugary sweetness in her voice.

“Of course, Ser Doran, Lady Carmella,” Liane nods to the Blackbolt, casting a look towards Serion that suggests she might take a chance to chide her own sibling once the Dondarrions have moved away, as usual. Whether or not she would have, Carmella’s words to her brother are apparently much more interesting, as the Uller woman observes with a sidelong glance.

“Hospitable as…as…”

Serion begins to reply, but falters somewhere in the middle of it. A frown mars his features; his gaze seems distant. “Yes, ser—entirely hospitable,” he finishes lamely—but offers a momentary burst of brightness: “Your sister is kind, too. And pretty. Very pretty.”

A motion of his hand indicates his assent, and after reaching back to brush it briefly with a hand, he leans once more against the same post that supports his sister. “Quite hospitable, isn’t it?” he says to her, glibly.

Relieved of his steed, Harold paces forward, stopping a polite distance away from the conversation’s center.

Doran gestures towards the stables proper as his sister moves past the Ullers. The marcher knight winces noticeably as she speaks still within earshot of the Ullers, his lips part as if he were about to speak, but Serion’s words cause him to dismiss any comment he had reserved for Carmella.

The Dondarrion knight’s emerald gaze once again fall upon Serion, and his visage would betray a man sizing up one who makes comments of his sister’s beauty. “You bring honor to my sister with your words, my lord of Uller. I am certain /she/ appreciates it.” With the last of his statement given, the half-dornish knight dismisses the Ullers entirely and begins to follow in his sisters wake towards the stables.

“As for tales, my lady sister. Ser Amond has served our father for years with nothing but loyalty, he would not lie to me. Yet this is not the reason I have begged your leave.” He moves up alongside his sister, still striding towards the stables.

Liane narrows her eyes at Serion with a dark look. And, in case he doesn’t catch it, she reaches up to flick at his ear again. “/He’s/ likely to try to set the pair of you up, so careful with your jests,” she drawls dryly before crossing her arms over her chest, belatedly catching sight of Harold when she looks away from her brother. At the unfamiliar face, she straightens, poking an elbow towards Serion to signal him likewise.

The Dondarrion knight’s long look is wasted on Serion, it seems—or, at least, goes unreturned. His own gaze seems fixed on some point beyond Doran, and somewhere to his right. He cants his head.

...and doesn’t catch his sister’s look; but the flicking he does, and his hand flies once more to his ear. “Ow!” he says sharply, under his breath. And sullenly: “I was being polite. And he’ll do nothing of the sort—he’s a grand knight. The only ‘ser’ I own is in my name. It does have a fine sound, though—doesn’t it? Serion!”

The jab in his rib silences the tall Dornish youth, however; and hearing Liane straighten beside him, he does the same.
Harold’s eyes widen slightly, but is otherwise the picture of chivalry as he bows, “Greetings.” He straightens with a small smile.

“Ser,” Liane nods to the unfamiliar knight, watching him cautiously rather than making any response to Serion’s sullen words. Her gaze flickers towards the stable and the departing Dondarrions before she looks back, chin rising to a proud stance. “Good afternoon to you.” A half a step puts her ever so slightly in front of her brother, though it’s a subtle motion, disguised with a twitch of her robes.

Harold inclines his head, “And to you both as well. Forgive my appearance, I have only just arrived, and I fear I still have the dust of the road about me. I am Harold Kenning of Kayce.”

“Good day, ser.”

Serion’s greeting joins his sister’s, though his is a measure less hearty and a dash more cautious. Crossing his arms across his silk-robed chest, he looks the part of a young lord of Dorne. “Serion Uller. My sister, Liane. There are roads hereabout? Pray tell—what sort?”

Liane’s expression hardens slightly at the introduction, shoulders setting straighter as her chin rises another inch. “What a pleasure to see you here, Ser Harold,” she greets, jaw set and voice hard. “And your men? Have they, too, left Hellholt and returned here?”

Harold’s smile remains fixed, “Ah, I thought I recognized the Uller red and gold. Then this truly is a pleasure.” He pauses for a moment, “Truthfully, I know not, my lady, only I was relieved of my duties. And the long and winding road has brought me hence.”

“You ought to have brought them with you,” replies Serion darkly, canting his head and looking away from the knight—seemingly, toward the stables. His left eye squints.

“We could exchange fond memories.”

Liane nods, looking away. “Well. I hope you will excuse me, Ser Harold,” she says after a moment, uncrossing her arms and glancing towards Serion. “I’m afraid I have something I must get back to.” With that, she turns, starting away from the stables and out towards the yard.

Harold nods slowly watching the Lady Uller depart, “Though there has been overmuch exchanges of ... culture, of late—wouldn’t you agree, Ser?”

“Too much by half for my taste,” Serion agrees with a smile lacking entirely in humor. “Still—one /does/ love to hear stories of home. Espe—”

He stops himself, turns his head back toward the knight, presses his lips tightly. “Serion,” his correction is short, crisp. “Just…Serion.”

Harold inclines his head, “Sometimes it is better to be just, Serion.” He sighs, “I would be happy to tell you what I know of Hellholt once ...” He gestures to his travel-stained attire, “...once I have become more settled.”

A short laugh escapes the young Serion—and not a humored one. “Forgive me, ser—I, too, have something I must get back to: forgetting you were ever there.”

A pause, though. A muttered word. And the snappiness of his reply is shattered as he asks tightly: “Which way leads to the outer yard?”
Harold laughs, at the response or the question, the context is not clear. He points from the direction from whence he came, “The roads lie in that direction, my lord.”

“Yes, ser,” the youth says, jaw tight, left eye narrowing—squinting?—at the knight. “Pray, /tell/ me, which way?”
Harold shrugs his shoulders, his pointing finger returning to his side, “That, my lord, is as they say, of your own choosing.” He sighs, “It has been a pleasure.”

A long breath escapes Serion—and he forces a smile. “Of course,” says he grimly. “Thank you.”
That spoken, he starts off in the direction indicated: but his steps are hesitant, short.

Red Keep: Stables
Meanwhile, in the stables ...

Carmella waits until the two of them are in the stables before she further acknowledges her brother, for by her body language she’s sure this isn’t going to be pleasant. Waiting for a couple stableboys to leave, Carmella heads to a quieter corner - if such a thing is possible - and turns to watch Doran, her arms folding across her chest. She doesn’t say anything, she just looks to him, waiting for his reason for pulling her away.

Doran halts as Carmella crosses her arms, and he allows his sad gaze to examine her face in silence. For several moments does he scan her features, until it seems that it pains him to continue any longer, and he averts his eyes as he moves to lean on one of the stalls. “Have you found yourself well?” Doran stalls, seeming to prolong the reason he truly called his lady sister into privacy.

Carmella sighs wearily and drops her arms to her sides, but she doesn’t look any more relaxed. “Please, dear brother, don’t tell me that war has completely stripped you of your senses. Am I finding myself well? That is certainly something that could have been asked in front of Lady Liane and her brother.” There’s a pause as she makes a pointed look past Doran and towards the door. “Or are you afraid ...” She lifts her hands to him and shakes her head. “What are you after, really, Doran?”

Silence seems to wrap it’s dark drapery about the half-dornish knight, and his face contorts into a look of anguish. After a few long drawn out moments, it would seem that the famous Dondarrion knight gains the best of his emotions, and an unfeeling look crosses his visage. “They came upon us at dawn.” Doran’s voice seems distant, as if he were reliving the memory in his mind. “After our uncle, Ser Pearse, was slain by our cousin, Ser Corentyn, I took what was left of his outriders and began hunting him down.” The Blackbolt pauses, forcing the lump down that has begun to form in his throat.

“I was certain I cornered him in a narrow ravine, and it was already dusk, so I set up camp for the evening. They took us completely unaware when dawn broke, our sentries must have been killed before warning could have been given. I didn’t even have time to don my armour, but I Tarell had my horse already saddled before they came for their second pass.” A glance is spared to his lady sister, before Doran once again finds interest in the wood grain of the stable walls.

“It wasn’t Ser Corentyn that I had been tracking, it was Ser Ormond. I am still very young, as our mother’s brother showed when he fell upon us so savagely.” Doran’s voice seems to trail off, and the shroud of silence takes him as he struggles for the appropriate words of what it is to say next.

This is not what Carmella had expected this private discussion to be about but she doesn’t look too pleased in the change of topic. Once again her arms cross in front of her and her eyes take on a dark stare as she watches her brother. “Why are you telling me this Doran? So that I might appreciate the horrors of war, that I might understand?” She sounds less than understanding at this moment. “Why you? Every knight in Westeros knows that the blight of kinslayer is something even the gods abhor. What man would willingly allow another to take that curse? There were no others in your company that could have avenged our uncle’s death? Ser Corentyn or Ser Ormond, both are kin and there were so many knights that could have slain then.” She pauses and sighs. “What exactly are you looking for?”

“The Yronwoods were threatening our supply lines along the Boneway. The Young Dragon asked the Stormbreaker to deal with it, and naturally Ser Pearse, Ser Anders, and I were selected as guides. No one knows that land as we did.” The Blackbolt’s tone is soft, and a gloved hand reaches up to pick at a piece of splintered wood of the stable wall. “I didn’t know it was Ser Ormond that I drove my lance into, only that it was a Yronwood. Half my camp was already butchered, and what was left were fighting for their life. I knew he was the leader, and our only hope was in cutting the head from the viper.” A soft sigh escapes the Blackbolt’s chest, and he turns to look fully on the face of his sister. “I have never talked about this before. My men heralded me as a hero, and the Young Dragon sent me praise for having cut down my own uncle. I remember for hours I kneeled before Ormond, his head on my lap, I wept as if my tears could give him life again.”

Doran drops his gaze from Carmella’s face, struggling hard to remove the heavy sadness that laden the depths of his emerald eyes. “I returned to Blackhaven after Sunspear fell. For the first time in my life I saw our father smile as he saw me. I had made him proud. Yet mother refuses to speak to me, she wouldn’t even see me when I returned. I would butcher the whole world if only to have her look upon me with the love she once did, but her eyes are dark and emotionless. She looked upon me as you do now…” Doran’s voice slowly trails off again, and the silence takes hold of him for a brief moment before he speaks again, “I only am looking for the love I hold for you and mother, Carmella.”

As soon as Doran begins talking again Carmella’s attentions seem to wander, for her eyes never linger on him more than a second or two as her gaze passes over him. Her lips are tight and so to is her jaw as she lets her brother say his peace. “The King praised you for being a kinslayer?” she asks in a disbelieving whisper, shocked that the king would approve what the gods would condemn.

There’s another heavy sigh, but it is not a sound of resignation. “Then the Hand did well in appointing you to Prince Baelor’s guard. The Prince is said to be quite pious, spending a lot of time in the Sept. I imagine it will take considerable time to gain the gods forgiveness in this.” There’s another pause and her dark eyes flash towards her brother. “And mine as well. Look for love from father, since you seem to demand his affections so greatly. I stand with mother and am only saddened that I cannot be home to offer her comfort. Not only has her house been nearly destroyed in this conquest, but you had a hand in helping that happen.” Carmella pushes herself away and heads towards the door, only to swing back to look at her brother, voice kept low. “They were only defending themselves. King Daeron brought this battle to them, did he not? Would we have done any differently if the roles had been reversed?”

“No, Carmella. I would have laid low all of Dorne in order to keep my family safe, had these roles been reversed.” Doran’s voice is soft, and he continues to look at the ground before him even as his sister makes her way back to the stableyard. “I am a knight, sister. It is my duty to obey my King, even if I do not agree in the justness of his cause. My whole life I only wanted my name to be remembered for great deeds, like the stories that mother had us read.” The Blackbolt raises his eyes, offering his sad smile to the sister who’s love he yearns so desperately for. “There is nothing poetic about war, and nothing beautiful about knighthood. It is death, it is loss, and it is regret. If I knew then what I know now, I never would have said the vows. I have said them, and I am doomed by them.” A pause is given, before Doran’s smile is lost in a sadness that draws his lips straight. “Forgive me, my beloved sister.” It is the last that the Blackbolt offers, before he turns on his heels and moves back towards the Targaryen’s section of the stables.

 

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