The afternoon, and Ser Daven Wyl has a wooden practice sword in hand underneath an orange tree, a Wyl man - one of his brother’s sworn swords - opposite him. The attack is pressed, wood clattering on wood, and Daven smiles as a smart smack is landed on the sworn sword’s bicep. He dances back and Daven laughs - not a cruel sound, but pleasure at victory. “Wine!” he says to another man nearby, and a skin is tossed in his direction, afternoon sun shining of a sheen of sweat on Daven’s bare chest.
Accompanied by a small hound, gangly-legged and with paws the size of small saucers, Lilah Gargalen enters with a bow of Dornish yew and a leather quiver full of fletched arrows; the expression on her face is one of curiosity and interest as she quietly converses with those she enters with, a pair of guards and perhaps other kin. She pauses at the sight of Dread Daven and the other Wyl man sparring, fingers tightening on the leather lead to the alanut, and watches.
A clatter of hoofbeats at the Lesser Gate announces the arrival of Joleta Gargalen. The heiress to Salt Shore sits astride her favorite sandsteed, a splendid blue-roan stallion. A pair of guards follow her, clad in crimson and gold. Trotting effortlessly beside her are a pair of lean, Dornish hunting hounds. The lady reins in her mount as they enter the courtyard and wait for stable lads take the spirited animal in hand.
Emerging from the Sandship, Galwell Dalt comes forward papers in hand his steward at his side. The two men converse quietly with a guardsman at their heels but when the sound of hoof beats and sword play are heard both stop and look up to seeking the source of the noise.
Wineskin caught, drunk from, and then a pleasant smile to the sworn sword: “It will fade,” the knight says, going to toss the wooden practice sword on the ground. He tilts his head back, holding the skin with both hands, and then offers it to his sparring partner as hoofbeats sound in the courtyard. He looks up, watching the riders, and then smiles: Gargalens. A hand is held out in greeting as he steps from under the shade of the orange tree.
Lilah nods a polite greeting, letting the bow slide through her hands idly. “Good afternoon, Ser,” she says politely, a hand gesture to the adolescent pup beside her making it sit, and it waits obediently, watching, tail slapping the dirt as it catches sight of well-known packmates, Joleta and Galwell. “Afternoon to you both, cousins,” Lilah calls to Galwell and Joleta. Her eyes catch each in turn. “How fares the day?”
After a stablelad catches hold of her stallion’s bridle, Joleta dismounts smoothly. She unwraps the silk facecloth, worn to protect against sand and dust. “Lilah. Cousin Galwell.” Her hawkish eyes sweep to the men in the practice yard, lingering there a moment. “Some minor business in the palace today.” At a subtle gesture, the two hounds drop to their bellies at the lady’s feet, waiting patiently… though the younger of the two hounds whines plaintively at Lilah’s pup.
Galwell’s papers are passed to his steward as the knight enters the yard completely grinning briefly for his kin. “Cousins,” he greets with a solemn nod for each. “The day goes well.” He turns then to Daven and eyes him shrewdly not taking the offered hand. “And who might you be, ser?” he asks.
A bow, in response to greetings. “Ser Daven Wyl, m’lord,” Dread Daven says, then the ladies. “M’ladies - Gargalens, by your coloring, I wager.” He straightens. “Pardon my dishabille, please - I was sparring.” Biceps flex. “Even if we have but brief peaceful sun, I am sure the dragons would like to huff and puff and make smoky clouds o’er Dorne once again.”
Lilah blinks a bit, and then chuckles, a soft peal of laughter through the courtyard. “Indeed, Ser Daven. I understand completely.” She waves the bow slightly, bemused. “I feel much the same.” Her pup whines to match the other at Joleta’s side, and Lilah looks to her cousin with an expression of mingled dismay and amusement. “I can say I had not expected to see such a sight coming to court today—I usually see the sparring of men over-armoured.” Whether she likes the sight or not is hard to say.
“Well, when one pulls a dragon’s tail, he’d best be prepared for -some- reaction,” Joleta drawls, inclining her head graciously. Her hawkish gaze fixes on the half-clothed knight, almost predatory. “Well met, Ser. I’m sure your brother is glad for your presence.” A henna-spotted hand gestures gracefully toward the Spear Tower, where many of the nobles who reside in the palace keep their apartments.
Galwell smiles a lizard lion smile and nods. “And why would the Dragons wish to savage us, I seem to recall the last one who came by offered peace. Well until he was nearly killed rescuing his cousin.” He looks at Daven. “It is good you keep at your practice, ser. It will be needed no doubt.”
“I did not have your name, ser,” Daven offers Galwell. “I am sure it is just happenstance we have not met before, though - tell me, in whose column did you fight? I was with Lord Blackmont in the marshes and at Salt Shore, and Ser Mavros and I rode at Godsgrace. I am sure we must have just been in different battalions.” He turns to look at the ladies. “And I am a beggar for your names, too, ladies - and,” he says, “I know I am the poorer for that.”
“My cousin, Lady Joleta Gargalen,” Lilah advises, gesturing towards her cousin. “My cousin, Ser Galwell Dalt, Lord Bailiff here in Sunspear,” and she motions again towards the man. “I am Lilah Gargalen.” She quirks a brow at Daven, gaze bouncing briefly between him and Galwell, but elects to say nothing, lips pressed together in a cool and polite smile.
The corner of Joleta’s mouth quirks upward, just slightly. “Alas, my cousin Galwell and I were among the seven-times-seven guests sent to King’s Landing. Our battles there, were of a different sort, yet no less dangerous, I assure you.”
“Oh I am sure you were very brave,” Galwell says with an exaggerated nod of his head. “Eat at all during the war? Did your horse have a saddle? Your bow have arrows? If so you’re welcome. It was my efforts that saw it so until you and your companions lost, and my cousin and I were shipped north.” A pause. “My thanks for that.” He turns then and joins his cousin taking a moment to scratch one of the dogs’ ears.
Dread Daven’s brows creep upward. “Certes, Lord Balwell. No one would say that any spear of steel would strike, were there not a shield of gold beside it.” He pauses. “As for losing - well,” he says. “In the Red Mountains we never gave up the fight.” A pause. “But then, that is ancient history, m’lord. Today is a new and peaceful world, where old animosities are but the memory of dragons.” He turns to the women. “Lady Joleta, Lady Lilah. One thing we did not have in the mountains - this I can be sure of - is sights as fair as either of you.”
“You flatter well, Ser.” Joleta remarks, canting her head to the side. “It is a difficult thing, to leave the past behind us, when there are great matters yet unresolved. Had certain recent events happened differently, I might have peace in this new world of yours. Promises were made and if the courses have been changed on that, I shall be sorely vexed.” She absently straightens a fold in her silk robes. “If you will excuse me, Ser. Sweet cousins. I have business within and I will bid you all a fine afternoon.” The tall lady inclines her head, a graceful and regal motion, then continues into the palace with her dogs at her heel like well-trained bodyguards.
Galwell bids Joleta farewell before he too makes ready to depart. “And I have business in the city,” he says regretfully. “Dear cousin, I bid you good day. Ser, we shall no doubt meet again.” Galwell nods then to his steward and the pair take their leave.
Daven nods, smiling. “I think my mother is a Martell,” he says. “And she defied the Young Dragon from the walls of Wyl. The Princes of Dorne are princes of the Boneway, too - it is just that sometimes, here in Sunspear, the border is very far away.” He pauses. “As for the sea - aye,” he says. “Though I fear I saw Salt Shore but briefly, before the Iron Serpent robbed me of sight for a time.” Pursed lips and a frown. “That man - one day,” he says with a shake of his head.
Lilah nods once, kneeling down to scratch between the ears of the dog at her side. “I’ve heard of him on occasion. I was sent from Salt Shore to be kept here, whilst the siege was under way, and then returned home once it was lifted. I did not see the battles, but as my brother has said, he’s surprised he did not hear - or see - me in armour myself. If they come again, well..” She bares her teeth in a gesture of ferocity, dampened by cheer. “We’ll see if a set of armour can me made to my size, and I shall pick them off from horseback.”
“Good girl,” Daven says approvingly. “Though in truth, my lady, we need more warriors - this is not over, Lady Lilah. The Targaryens will try and try again until Dorne is theirs, or until we have extracted such a bloody border - some wide /Dornish/ marches - that they are feared to stir.” He shakes his head. “And that will be the work not just of our generation, lady, but of the sons you one day bear.”
Lilah snorts in a particularly unladylike manner, looking over her shoulder as her cousins depart. “Implying I do breed them. I rather feel like one of my cousin’s broody mares, out for show but not much else.” She rolls her eyes, shrugging. “Ah, well. Perhaps I’ll be wed before I’m confined to hobbling here and there. I could demand a litter of fine, strapping men to carry me hither, thither and yon,” she adds as an aside, almost to herself. “I hope we’ll extract that soon. I need their king to live a bit longer, so my cousin gets her annulment, and then would cheerfully begin to make those marches. What about yourself—so eager to go back to war?”
“Eager?” Daven says, shaking his head. “No. I am content to live in victory, to enjoy the fruits of free Dorne. I did not lie when I said we had no fine ladies in the mountains - I have been four years in the saddle and living on hard ground, and feather beds have a decided appeal.” He pauses. “But at the same time, I have looked the Andal in the eye since I was a boy. I do not believe their Hand is content to bind them to peace, even if their prince is busy praying.”
“They are greedy,” she comments, “like a merchant from Myr, or a woman in a pillow-house. Or one of those lion-lizards. If they try to swallow Dorne, I would see it burst from their bellies and destroy them with it.” There’s a moue of dismay on her face, and she looks over to Daven a bit wryly. “I oughtn’t be so forward, should I? One of my failings, I’m afraid.”
Dread Daven’s smile is fierce, almost predatory, the lion-lizard himself. “I am sure there are times when a Dornishwoman should be demure,” he says. “I can think of several, surely - but I do not think any of them is when she faces one of the Andals. Were I in skirts before a dragon, I’d try to put a knife in its eye.” He pauses. “But then, I do not wear skirts, and I do not know the truth of these things - so I can only say, Lady Lilah, that for a poor knight like me, you are not too forward at all.”
Lilah grins, and makes a gesture, wiping invisible sweat from her brow. “I am pleased to hear that. I have, I think, caused affront to some of the lords and knights with my ferocity. Given that Wild Will is my elder brother, I’m not particularly sure *why* this would surprise people, but…” she trails off and grins. “So. I see you were practising your sword-work. Is that your main focus, ser, or do you dabble in bow and other things?”
“The bow has never been my weapon,” Daven says. “I was born a reaver, my lady - and aye, I am proud of it. The marcher villagers feared hearing our hoofbeats, and from horseback it is the sword that rules.” He smiles. “But I am a knight, aye. A man must know many weapons.” He smiles. “Though I hunt with a spear, usually.”
Lilah nods. “Spear I have never learned. My brother tends to warhammer, and I fear I’d end up cutting my skirts or breeches, if I tried that. I would be more a danger to myself than others.” She chuckles. “In times of war, reavers are what can show power, whether ‘tis honourable or not. I spoke with Ser Galen Vaith recently, who was called outlaw, for his hit-and-run work during the war. Your kind is not the one songs are sung of, perhaps—but they are no less important.”
“Also,” Daven says with a twinkle in his eye, “we have more fun.” He pauses. “I do not know Ser Galen,” he says, “but I knew his father, some. A great man.” He pauses. “One of these days, perhaps, I will find a party and remind the Stormlands why they hate the Dornishmen so - but I think not too soon,” he says. “It would upset my brother.”
Lilah grins at him broadly, a genuine and warm smile, perhaps the first one during the encounter. “I think, Ser Daven - Dread Daven, even, as it were! - we should discuss our mutual… affection… for the Westerosi and our interests in Dorne. We seem to share some interests.” She looks skyward, and sighs. “I think I had best get myself to mine own practice, ser, and let you return to yours.” She offers him a polite curtsy, and then moves towards the inner yard, proceeding towards the outer yard and its archery butts.
Dread Daven bows. “I can think of several fine conversations to have about the many gifts I’d like to give the Andals, to demonstrate my enduring love.” He straightens. “Go to your practice, my lady. There are yet dragons to take down on the wing.” Another bow, and he turns, hailing the men lounging with the wineskin to stand back up and take up wooden swords.