The forecastle is near empty except for the two sailors that are on watch, and the Blackbolt of Blackhaven writing on some parchment. A makeshift office seems to have been set up, a small crate serving as a chair, and a larger one a table. Atop the largest of the two containers resides the parchment Doran so hastily scribbles on, his brow narrowed in a look of determination at he scribes.
His leathern doublet is what he wears this evening, emblazoned proudly with the heraldry of his house. A lantern, located next to the paper and ink, casts forth its illumination to throw back the gathering dusk. The diamonds sewn into Doran’s surcoat blaze like the stars that will soon be hailed overhead, given brilliance by the setting of the sun, and the small flame of the lantern. “Damn!” Doran proclaims, causing both guards to jump.
Doran’s gloved hand comes out to grab hold of the sheet, crumpling it into his fist before he tosses it into the air to be taken by the wind. “Tarell!” Doran shouts, his voice drifting into the wide expanse of the heavens.
Today has been a good day for Lanei. A quiet, still day, and it seemed to her as if the shining Sun had smothered the dark moods of their wardens, which matched the grey-black clouds they suffered for the last week. At least, they did not deign to bother her. She had some time to spend to her people, to have good and interesting talks. They enjoyed, together, the warmth of the Sun and, in the end, as they headed back below deck, the dornish lady decided to stay around the deck.
Resuming the reading of the book she has been busy with for the last couple of days, Lanei found a good place up, at the forecastle, to sit and read, quietly, by one of the corners, and since she would hardly disturb the men perhaps she would distract them, but that would be their fault, should they spend their time looking at her, wouldn’t it?- they allowed her to stay. As time passed, and surely because the warmth ֖and because she barely slept in the last days- tiredness reached her and the lady fell asleep.
“Tarell!”, she listened in her dreams and, startled, Lanei wakes up, fear gnawing her stomach as if she had been hit there. “What…?!” the lady says, eyes wide, leaning forwards. And, as she realizes that it was just one of the knights calling out for another, a deep sigh leaves her lips and reclines, again, on the corner.
Doran’s eyes shoot towards Lanei, his own face now taking a look of surprise. “My lady!” He exclaims, his feet finding the deck as he rises from his makeshift chair. “My apologies, I thought I was alone on the forecastle evening.” A flush washes over the young knight’s face, making his flesh of dornish heritage appear even darker.
“Most have occupied the main deck, and I had noticed the bow was not as favored for the guests, and as such the knights that seek to drool or harry them.” Doran’s brow once again furrows, as he examines the Fowler, his eyes skimming down her body as a general would gauge a possible battlefield.
“Nay, please, my lord. I beg of you” Lanei begins to say, looking up at Doran and, noticing his frown, she ventures, “There is no need to apologize, my good ser, since it is my fault, I suppose. I should have not joined the Forecastle, less to fall asleep here, in such an inconvenient place. There are cabins, with beds, to sleep, below deck. They were put there with that purpose.” With a soft hmpf, the lady rises to her feet and, keeping the book on one hand, she uses the free one to brush her garments, a little dirty now. The floor was not all the clean it should, apparently.
“I apologize, if I disturbed you. It is only… I liked the forecastle’s quietness, but I will leave at once” she adds. “Besides, night has fallen upon us”. Lanei shivers, despite the warm weather.
“No, my lady. It is I who erred.” Doran offers a smile, although the weakness of it is apparent, and forced. “Lanei Fowler, is it?” Doran inquires, his hand reaching up to remove the blackened bolt of lightning that had served as his brooch. His gloved hand reaches behind him to remove his dark violet cloak. This he offers to the lady before him.
“I have met the Lady Liane, but this I believe would be the first I had the pleasure of another one of our guests.” Doran bows his head in a form of respect. “You do not need to leave. I believe I lost my squire, and my parchment.” Again his smile spreads across his face, yet the depths of his eyes betray its conviction.
Lanei’s eyes survey, discreetly, the westerosi knight’s figure. Clad in black, and dark-haired, he recalls her of someone, despite the lady cannot guess who is this man, or even if they met in the past, around Hellholt or Sunspear. Surely they did and she forgot about him? But the Fowler’s memory has not served her very well in the last weeks, too obstructed by the grief following the passing of her family’s men and friends.
“Aye, I am Lanei Fowler, from Skyreach” she says, performing a little curtsy, her eyes now widen at Doran’s courtesy. “But, I am afraid, I don’t know whom I have the pleasure to speak to… and to accept his kindness”, she adds, turning and offering her back to the Dondarrion, so that he himself can place the cloak on her shoulders. “I have been reading about, though” the lady comments, waiting for him to put the cloak, and, by your look, you must be ...?”.
“Ser Doran Dondarrion, mi’lady, although to most I am simply the Blackbolt. Second son of Manfred Dondarrion, Lord of Blackhaven.” Doran’s hands slide over the shoulders of the lady’s, placing the rather thick cloak across her back. “You Dornish ladies do not seem to have the proper attire for anywhere beyond Dorne.” He admits, his face seeming somewhat relieved that the cloak will cover the bare skin the Fowler has on display with her clothes.
“Ah, The Blackbolt of Blackhaven? I should have guessed it” the dornish woman says, now turning on her heels and looking up at Doran. “But westerosi heraldry is not one of my strong points.” Nor she had a reason to learn about, until Daeron decided to wage war upon Dorne. “I will learn about, though as I will learn to have my cloak at hand and ready. But I did not expect to fall asleep here. Don’t think, yet, that we are not used to the hard weather too. It is cold by the mountains, and in the desert lands, especially at nights.”
She examines him closer, and suddenly exclaims, “But of course. Now I remember… Yes, lady Liane mentioned to have met you. Aren’t you Dondarrions related to Yronwoods? I think one of their ladies married into one of your houses. Is she, perhaps, your lady mother, ser?.”
Doran smiles a genuine smile now, his eyes seeming to sparkle at mention of his own mother. “Yes, Lady Loreza of House Yronwood.” Doran clarifies, his hands brushing down the middle of his tunic, as if the leather would actual need straightening. “She is my mother, and still as beautiful as the day she married my father, or so I have been told.”
“I have never been there, at the Yronwood’s seat, nor I know Lady Dondarrion, at least to my knowledge, yet I met some members of the House at the Court, or while visiting other castles.” And, certainly, Lanei cannot remember if any Yroonwood visited Skyreach in the years she spent there. Did they, surely?. Anyway, that is not an important matter.
“I see you love deeply your mother, ser. Your words cannot hide the admiration you feel for her. I am pretty sure you are a good and dutiful son. Will I have the pleasure to meet her in King’s Landing?”. Because, certainly, Lanei would like to have a chat with a dornish lady… used to the customs of the Targaryen’s court.
The genuine smile fades from Doran’s face as swiftly as it had appeared. “I am afraid she will be remaining with my father at Blackhaven.” Doran states softly, turning his eyes out to the west, as if he almost could make out the walls of his home so many leagues away. A long silence follows his gaze, before once again his emerald eyes fall upon the Fowler. A weak smile is offered and his lips once again part, “I hope you have not been harassed as horribly as the Lady Liane?” Doran inquires, his eyes finding much more ease keeping attention on the lady’s face with aid of his cloak.
“Now I saddened you…” Lanei states, and paces once, so that she will reach the railing. As Doran, she looks out to the West, but her eyes move, after a moment, to the South. “I do know well what is to miss home.”
The lady falls silent for a large while, not only for Doran’s change of mood but, also, for his question. Lanei inclines her head, pondering, and eventually offers, “I was—and I will. I am sure I will, again.” What did Liane say about this knight? Damn, messed up with Dagur’s tale, she just mentioned Doran. “But… I have met kind sers and lords too, as are Lord Arryn and Ser Jaesin Lannister.” She pauses and manages a smile. “And Ser Doran Dondarrion. Thus I know that not all the men around are like Jonn Lannister or Samion Baratheon.”
Doran’s jaw clenches at the mention of Ser Jonn, “Myself and Ser Jonn are on less than friendly terms. I served under the Stormbreaker on the Boneway, a brilliant commander and warrior, but we have a history…” His voice once again trails off, before it finally resumes after some minor uncomfortable reverie.
“Ser Jaesin and Lord Arryn? Both instruments of honor and conduct, I am proud to have served with them, though perhaps not directly. I do ask if there is any issue with the others to let me know, many do not hold true to their Vow of the Maiden.” Doran’s voice still is soft, but he holds true to the unconvincing smile upon his lips.
“I cannot help but wonder if Jonn Lannister” stubbornly, she won’t call him ֑Ser’, “has even a friend. I will pity his lady wife, if he has one, and stays, still, at his side instead returning her parents’ home.” Lanei takes a deep breath, and nods in agreement. “Indeed, they are honorable knights and, as I said to Ser Jaesin this morning, he honours his House. Lord Arryn, too, looks to be a good man. No wonder their good reputation, as knights. Aye” she nods again. “They would keep their vows, no less than you would.”
She leans further on the rail, looking down at the black waters. “Do you think we will arrive to King’s Landing soon? I do not mind sailing as others, but… the ship is not enough big to keep us, the hostages, kept away from some… sers and, I deem that, once we settle in the city, things might improve.”
“I overheard someone say it will be no later than next week.” Doran turns his eyes to the water, following Lanei’s gaze as if attempting to discover what it is that has found her attention. “The cramp quarters are tiresome, and I’ll admit I am more at home on the back of a horse. The last few days especially I wondered if it would not have been better to take the roads to King’s Landing from Blackhaven, instead of getting on at Storm’s End.”
Doran will now lean on the rail alongside Lanei, his eyes growing dim and distant as he falls into yet another one of his silent reveries.
“Then we have heard the same, my lord. That we should arrive there in the next days”. She smiles. “I just wanted to be sure that I was not teased, or told a lie to comfort me.” Then, at Doran’s next words, Lanei’s smile grows wide. “Ah, to ride! I wish we had heading there by road, instead sailing. Despite the dust and the weather, I would not mind at all, and would cope with that, and happily, if just I had been given a chance to ride!”.
She would clasp her hands together, if only they were free, but they keep, stil the book. “But I don’t think they would let us. Well” Lanei sighs, “I hope we will have some… freedom, to ride out the city… well watched, of course…”
“If you wish, when we arrive in King’s Landing, I can make certain to procure us a way to ride together.” Doran’s eyes shift away from the sea, and back on the face of the Dornish woman. “I had not realized you were so fond of riding, but than I must admit I have had little conversation with many of Dorne.” Doran’s smile widens, a testament that the subject of riding is a worthy topic that breeds no discourse from him.
Lanei draws her eyes from the water to look up at Doran, with hope and, yet, there is some distrust lying at the bottom. “Would it be possible? I don’t know what they… the King, will have planned or not, concerning his hostages. “It would be wonderful, indeed, to be able to ride again. I have not done for… by the Mother, for months… since Hellholt’s siege started.”
“And… yes…” she smiles shyly. “I do love riding. I used to do it pretty often. And to hawk. And I don’t mind, either, to go with riding with the men when they go hunting.”
“I am not certain exactly what the Stewart will decide, my lady. But I am certain I can arrange for it, the Iron Throne has no need to question my loyalty.” Doran’s statement is matter of fact, as if it left no room for debate.
“I seldom had time for hunting, and only did it as a necessity when stopping Dornish rangers in the Marches.” Doran continues, his left hand closing around his right wrist, rubbing it continuously as he turns his gaze back to sea.
“I don’t know, even, of that Steward” Lanei starts, just to frown at Doran’s following words. She shakes her head but, still, speaks kindly to him, “Oh, as our men used to watch over the Marches to stop those entering our land. Some of them were not fond of hunting, but they needed to do it, especially if they were away from home. Well…” she feigns a yawn. “I think I should go down. They must be wondering what happened to me.”
The lady removes the cloak form her shoulders and reaches it out. “I lack of words to express you my gratitude, my good ser.”
“Keep it, my lady, until it is you can collect clothing that will guard you against the chill of the evening air. King’s Landing is not Dorne.” Doran’s weak smile is given strength from some strange inner warmth that now comes over him, but as always his emerald eyes bare an unspoken sadness.
“I could escort you to your quarters?” Doran offers, his hands pushing off of the railing to stand erect once again. “I am sure if you pass by Ser Jonn, you will be thankful of my company.”
Although she looks to be pondering Doran’s offer, Lanei accepts it, eventually, and she places it back on her shoulders. It is a good cloak, the lady appreciates good fabrics as any other woman, despite thick and heavy, far from the light garments she is used to wear.
“You can, indeed” she curtsies, “if only you promise me that you will not… attempt to react to his pestering words as long as he speaks but words.” Lanei sighs, “Know that I do not wish to have you getting into problems, just for me. Words cannot harm.”
She walks to the stairs. “Shall we, my lord?” And both ser and lady leave the Forecastle and, once they reach the deck, head to the cabins… without incidents.