Blood of Dragons is the only author-approved MUSH based on George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire. Play the Game of Thrones and become a part of the history of the Seven Kingdoms:
The crowd gathered upon the docks is massive, a sea of people stretching from near the banks of the Blackwater to the high red walls of King’s Landing, or so it seems. The gold cloaks seem overwhelmed, as they fight to keep the road to the River Gate clear, and to keep the area about the quays clear of this mass of people. Within the quieter circle they have made are hundreds of members of the court—many noble women and their attendants, some knights and older lords, servants, grooms, banner-bearers, and more. They all wait in anticipation as the ships of the fleet glide nearer and nearer.
A hail from the docks indicates men ready to take hold of lines cast from Ser Artys’s Falcon, to make fast the great war galley to a quay. The same scene plays up and down the docks, as other oared galleys move on the flanks and rear of the Falcon, each preparing to find a place on the docks. The hail can barely be heard for the cheers, however, for a great crowd of people have gathered to see this small fleet come in. They have waited weeks to celebrate the return of heroes from the conquest, and at last their wait is ended.
Lord Arryn’s officers shout commands, leading the oarmaster’s drums to change their rhythm. There’s a brief lurch as the oars reverse and begin to back water, slowing the vessel further as it begins to glide to the quay. Gold cloaks with spears held across their bodies form a line to force back a surge of the crowd that tries to rush closer.
Among the gathered nobles and their attendants, placed not quite at the centre where the royalty waits surrounded by their guards and sworn swords but near enough to suggest some decent connections at court, are a pair of young women. One wears black and bronze, her raven-hued hair—curiously streaked with silver at each temple—worn in a long braid, while the other—younger by some years—is garbed in a red gown trimmed with white lace. The latter looks out over the quays with eager expectation on her face, whereas the former seems rather less interested, her mien cooly aloof.
A shout from below decks, a *thump* of the drums to emphasize it, and the oars lift up from the water as the Falcon now inches forward. Thick cables are thrown across to the waiting men, who gather them quickly and heave hard on them to bring the galley closer to quayside. Those who have the leisure to look out at the crowd and the Red Keep beyond may finally make note a space, well-guarded by gold cloaks and sworn swords, in which a distinguished lord with silver-gold hair and several young children much like him in appearance now stand: Prince Viserys, Daeron’s Hand, and his nephew and nieces, the Young Dragon’s siblings. Almost lost among them is another person, the Princess Naerys, as beautiful as she is delicate.
Standing near the stern of one of the ships, the young heir of Baratheon, clad in the colors of his house watches the sea of people standing on the docks with eyes scanning over the colors blending together before his eyes. As the sailors work on bringing the ship safely to the dock, he stands silently, his face showing the same expression as the guards of his house gathered around him, a stern one, but also with a hint of pride and happiness carved into it.
Among the women protected by the gold cloaks, and not so very far from Prince Veserys and his own retinue of guards, Reyna Rowan stands in patient silence. The only color that relieves her mourning black is the circlet of pearls that anchors the veil to her head, a veil that covers her face and shoulders so that the only skin visible is the white of her hands.
Modesty ends there, however. Her gown is a bold one; a wise one, under the heat of the glaring sun, but certainly a bit immodest. The wind from the sea stirs the light cloth of her sleeves and hems, and wisps the veil against the contours of her face. If she is excited, if she weeps or if she is merely indifferent, none could know.
The Crown Prince, Baelor, is all in white and clasps his hands about a seven-sided crystal, no doubt giving thanksgiving for the vessel’s safe arrival. Daena, the eldest of the sisters, seems bored and scratches at a black-clad sleeve. About them are lords and ladies of the court, some with their own household guards assisting in keeping back the surging masses.
“Shhh,” there is the sofest sound from Elanna Baratheon, as she touches gentle fingers to the quivering muscles of her mount’s neck, held in check by patient fingers. He shifts uneasily still, but quiets the head tossing that prompts her gesture of calm.
She glances at the Baratheon retinue: women of the house, the steward, a groom holding a huge grey courser, dwarfing her own Nightmare, clad grandly in Baratheon cloth of gold and severe black, guards armored splendidly and a number of footmen, holding the banners of the leaping stag and a few shading cloths.
Her teeth worry her lower lip as she cranes her neck to witness the events at the docks, veiled as she is in a mist of black.
Lines and cables are tied to the quay, securing Ser Artys’s Falcon. A blare of trumpets sounds then, a clarion call from the deck announcing the ship’s official arrival. For a moment, the crowd silences, and then it bursts into cheers. On the deck, sailors work to lift a broad gangplank over the side to make a pathway to the quay. The workers on the shore take the plank’s end and help settle it into place. As this is done, Prince Viserys and the princelings move somewhat nearer.
For long, since King’s Landing came into view and the fleet started manoeuvring, Lanei has been hanging around the deck, walking up and down the deck as the caged hawk she is, her will torn: on the one hand, she wishes they had docked and, on the other hand, she wishes, now more than ever, they had never left Sunspear… or arrived to the Targaryen’s city. Childish wish as it might be, she spent a couple of hours looking at the sailors getting ready to dock, at a few wandering sers growing impatient to meet their families, while others, still on duty, survey the ship’s manoeuvres.
Lifting her eyes to the sky, Lanei Fowler cannot help but think that, indeed, today’s weather has little to do with her mood. Certainly, a cloudy day would match her feeling better than this bright afternoon the Gods decided to offer them. And thus, eventually, Ser Artys’s Falcon docks, and as Princess Ariana leaves the cabins, Lanei walks to her side. Surely they will leave very soon.
The order of precedence has been decided well in advance, and what’s left is a carefully orchestrated disembarking from Ser Artys’s Falcon. As this begins, the other vessels have begun to be made fast to the docks, and they too prepare to disgorge their occupants, both the illustrious and the notorious.
Amidst the throng of nobles in the circle of guards, a markedly tall young woman in silver and white stands behind two smaller companions, murmuring descriptions and spotting banners for her less-lofty friends. One of those identifies her family clearly, sporting the purple lightning of Dondarrion, while the most diminutive of the three is dressed in the warm hues of fire. Somewhat unusually, the three young ladies are accompanied by a total of only two septas.
“Best mount up, my lady,” says a groom to Reyna, coming to touch her elbow lightly. “We want you out of the fray when they come off the ship.”
Reyna nods, and allows the man in Tyrell—not Rowan—livery boost her up onto her docile red-brown mount. Lily stands placidly, as if Elanna’s beast were not just beside her. “They are come at last,” Reyna remarks to Elanna, settling her skirts over the mare’s flanks. “It seems almost an anti-climax.”
“Quite a remarkable fuss over some ships,” Aisling dryly remarks to no one in particular, and the noise of the crowd more or less drowns her words out, save possibly for those standing nearest to her and her step-sister. One of those is a middle-aged man wearing the same colours as her, black and bronze, and gives her a somewhat reproachful look that doesn’t seem to register with the young woman. No, she seems determined to uphold the air of being rather bored by the whole spectacle.
From Ser Artys’s Falcon, first before all others is the litter carrying Prince Aemon, borne by attendants and accompanied by a few of his closest friends. The Dragonknight has not had the best of the journey, recovering from a poisoned wound as he is, but he has insisted in being garbed in his whites. He is too weak to walk, however, and so is carried out upon a litter draped in white linens. The curtains are pulled back so that all may see him, and is well aware of it. Rather than lie back, he props himself up and puts a smile upon his lips, even as the sweat of effort beads on his brow. Some are in tears at seeing this, and surge against the line of gold cloaks. Ser Richard Harte, commander of the City Watch, shouts orders from his destrier, and a few men and even women yowl with pain as supporting watchmen beat at them with cudgels to force them back.
Liane lingers back with the hostages on the Falcon, her younger brother at her side. As she looks out over the docks and the surging crowds, there’s no mistaking the distinctly ill look that crosses her features. A hand rises to cover her mouth, and she turns her face to her brother’s shoulder for a moment, drawing in a deep breath.
Carmella stands quietly with the eagle eyes of her Septa on her as they both, along with the others under Dondarrion employ in King’s Landing who stand a short distance apart, wait for the arrival of knights and hostages. The Septa’s gaze wanders over the crowd, lingering a moment on the royal entourage, but Carmella’s expressionless gaze is on the ships themselves. Her hands smooth over her skirts, but she ignores the black strands of hair that are tossed across her cheeks from the breeze. While she doesn’t appear bored or uninterested, the dark-haired Dondarrion doesn’t yet share in the enthusiasm some of the crowd is exhibiting. Briefly she glances toward Marian and Irena and only then does she quirk a brief smile, otherwise the expression is subdued.
“Oh, Ren,” Elanna shakes her head with a small smile, from atop her own lofty perch, “You pretend a calm demeanor, but I am sure you are as excited as I am.”
She accepts a goblet from a Baratheon footman, and shifts her veil to drink, her hands tighten on the reins as Nightmare shifts to eye the close standing footman.
“Best move back,” she murmurs kindly, “He is a little edgy today. All this noise has him upset.”
With her height ensuring nothing but difficultly for her when it comes to seeing the ships and what is happening with them. It is pure determination that keeps both of Irena’s feet on the ground and her hands folded demurely infront of her. Her eyes scan the crowd for a gap through which she might see, if only for a moment. She remains respectfully silent, although she glances at the other ladies in her group from time to time.
The crowd shouts the Dragonknight’s name and young women throw flowers over the line of gold cloaks. A very few fall among the litter, but the attendants do not pause, carrying him the rest of the way to where his father, sister, and cousins are. In all the uproar, his elder brother, Prince Aegon, is almost unnoticed. He pauses at the start of the gangplank, looking on at the crowd that is so passionate for his brother, and his expression is for a moment unreadable. Then he turns to a companion, one of those young and wild knights who tend to fall under his influence, and makes some remark that raises a smirk on the man’s lips. Then they proceed down, to where Aemon lies upon his litter with Viserys and the children about him. A few take notice the swaggering, richly-clad prince, and raise a cheer—after all, all the stories say he fought bravely, if not so bravely as his more beloved younger brother.
The young heir of Baratheon, Tancred, watches patiently as ‘his’ ship is secured to the dock, only looking up briefly now and then to watch the members of the nobility preparing to leave the ships in the order given to them. Finally he offers one of the Baratheon guards a nod, who quickly set things in motion around him. Now his group makes their way towards the gangplank, ready to leave the ship when it is his turn. His guard form a shell around him, leaving him enough space to walk unhindered, but keeping the ‘shell’ strong enough to eventually make its way through the crowd on the docks.
Behind the royal entourage as it leaves the ship, a giant figure looms, broad of shoulder and crowned in black hair, black bearded and fierce blue eyes. His black cloak hangs from his shoulders, drinking in the sun of the hot day. With halting steps, the knight’s footsteps shudder the plank following Targaryen company. Before setting foot upon the dock, he takes a breath to cast a glance at the gathered crowd.
Exhaling, Sarmion says, “I had forgotten the stench.”
The Stormbreaker steps from the plank to the wooden docks.
And then, rather suddenly, a change in Aisling’s demeanour. She follows the example of much of the crowd, craning her neck to get a better look at the first passenger to disembark, albeit not on his feet. She may not have brought any flowers to throw, but for a moment or two there’s no mistaking her interest in getting a glimpse of the Dragonknight on his litter. Until, that is, she sharply looks elsewhere instead, a hint of colour on her pale cheeks and a frown on her lips. Her companions seem oblivious to this, and the younger woman with her is still doing her best to stretch tall enough to see the rest of the dignitaries as they leave the ship.
What words pass between the father and the sons are not clear, except maybe to those nearest to the Targaryens. But Aegon does embrace his father, and then turns to bow most elegantly before his sister as he takes her hand and places upon it a kiss. A few women, seeing this, make clear their pleasure at such gallantry. Naerys, for her part, accepts it with a gentle smile and a curtsy. But after that, she’s to the side of her other brother, Aemon, as he lies upon his litter.
Marian continues quietly describing those portions of the scene likely to pass beyond Irena’s notice to her diminutive companion, though her own gaze keeps sweeping the forest of banners and devices bedecking the ships of the fleet. She seems a little nervous, breath somewhat quickened, but is as determined as her two companions to avoid making a scene.
Now the rest of the illustrious company is disgorged, from Ser Artys’s Falcon and other vessels of the fleet. Heroes, champions, knights covered in glory—it is all one, as the crowd cheers and cheers until they are hoarse. Flowers are thrown, a multitude of colors, and the cheers are loudest when it seems families are reunited, sons to mothers, husbands to wives, fathers to children.
As the Princes come to the circle of their family, Reyna bends her head in courtesy with their passage. At the same time, she twitches Lily’s reins to move her a few paces away from Nightmare, and turns her face to the dock. “Is that Sarmion?” she asks, pointing a discreet finger.
The grandest hero of them all shows up, at last! .. No, that was someone else. Bryce in his yellow and black has been standing behind some of the others on deck with a rather disgruntled look, jaw set firm and eyes staring out from their deep settings. His doublet is spotless, he is cleaned up, shaven and fresh, yet he gives something of a worn and tired look - from the weeks at sea, perhaps?
When he sees the first crowds, he blinks a few times and a small proud smile appears on his lips. Soon enough, as more has come into view, his gaze widens as he looks out over King’s Landing and registers just how many people have gathered. When he finally straightens up and walks up onto the plank and towards the city, pride shines from his body-language, even if his eyes are still darkened. He is alone, no guards protecting his person, and he looks rather lonely in the middle of it all, especially when couples are reunited and fathers come to meet their sons.
The young Fowler draws a long sigh. Time has arrived to deal with this, she deems, and the lady vows, for the thousand time, to do the best she can manage. With a nod, she acknowledges Liane and Serion Uller’s presence, and looks briefly over her shoulder even to be certain that her Fowler cousins are there too, as well as the Dalts children, well-watched by their septa. Hopefully they will behave as well, and will not offer this… crowd a spectacle worth to remember. Taking a deep breath, she prepares herself, mentally, to leave the ship, as soon as they are told to proceed, and following her princess. Yet, this will take them some time, for the Targaryens princes are greeting each other. Well, she is not in a hurry and, in silence, folds her arms to the chest, and waits patiently for the moment.
Elanna likewise offers her obesience to the Princes, but at Reyna’s words, she jerks upward, sapphirine gaze sweeping the docks. The Stormbreaker is not hard to miss, and her eyes spark with excitement at espying him, displacing the sorrow.
“It is…” she breathes with no small amount of relief in her tone, before exclaiming, “Thank the Seven!”
She gestures something, and the groom holding the black and gold liveried stallion leads him forth to stand ready at her side.
Lest she appear odd, Carmella joins in, politely, with the cheering, even finding it in her to smile a bit more while her eyes search the decks of the ships for familiar faces or Dondarrion colors. That search is distracted by the arrival of the Prince on his litter and for a moment her lips lose their smile and her brows knit with concern. “Thank the Seven that he lives,” Carmella murmurs to her companions, a sentiment that earns a tearful nod from her Septa, who has kept her gaze focused on the royal family. But even as Carmella is uttering those words her attention turns back to the ship, gaze curious on those still to disembark.
Now making his descent along the plank is a tall young knight with blond hair and cold grey eyes, his brooding features bronzed by the sun. If that did not make him unmistakeable enough, the Dancing Griffins emblazoned upon his long cloak indicate that he could be no other than Ser Almer Connington, the famous—or infamous—commander, friend of the King and the Dragonknight, and a hero of the Carrion Wood.
Five hard-looking men who wear the same livery trail behind him, each hoisting saddlebags, swords, or other warlike dunnage over their shoulders. One bears a large burden, a casque of some sort of black wood. In the rear of the little cavalcade is a slender, dark-complected girl of surprising beauty.
Ser Almer’s expression is grave, and not a little strained, but he manages a thin smile at the raucous greeting. When his boot leaves the gangplank to touch the stony surface of the quay, he kneels and kisses the ground. Someone in the throng tosses a garland of flowers in his direction; a number of Stormlanders clad in Connington red and white call out his name, but it is lost in the crash and tumult of noise.
Having left the ship at the time expected of him, Tancred is now making his way down the dock, with the guards surrounding him. The shouting now echoes all around him as he pokes a guard infront of him, nodding in Sarmions direction. The group now slowly makes its way through the crowd heading towards the towering giant of his house. Suddently a few flowers are thrown at him from places in the crowd, and then some more. A small smile forms on Tancreds lips, “I told you there would be rain, Testar.” A guard turns his head grinning, “Not that it would be flowers, my Lord.”
Already upon the dock, Stormbreaker skirts the knot of royalty, his sheer gravity pushing him away from the mass of people. Ignoring any that call his name in praise or derision, he looms at the edge of the crowd, walking towards the other ships down the docks that disgorge knights and soldiers of all liveries.
Among them are kettlehelmed veterans in quartered Baratheon colors, each bearing the same badge upon their right breast as Sarmionhas upon his cloak: a black stag’s head erased with thunderbolts issuing from its mouth.
Raising up his hand, towering above the smaller figures, the men of his company jostle themselves into some order, as others unload baggage from the ship they’ve left.
Irena is more greatful to have someone explain the parts of the scene she can’t see than most of the crowd will probably ever realize. She continues to attempt to peer through the crowd though, wishing she could see more for herself. She has to rely on the crowd to show her when to react, and the result is cheering that is more polite than exuberant. It does not help that her mind is much more on watching the scene than participating in it.
A basket is given to Reyna when Almer first appears on the gangplank; now she tosses the dewy stems of Highgarden roses in his direction—until she sees that black box. “Oh…” she says softly, the rose in her hand falling from suddenly nerveless fingers. “Ella…” she says suddenly, letting the basket tumble to the stones and reaching out toward Ellana.”
To a whispered query from her step-sister, Aisling shakes her head in a rather terse fashion, her expression still not quite as unruffled as it was just a little time ago. She has, however, resumed an idle watch over the proceedings, her dark eyes inscrutable as they scan the row of knights and squires departing from the ship. It does not appear as if she’s waiting for anyone in particular, however, which would suggest that either no family of hers took part in the war or they are known not to be returning.
Marian still seems somewhat disinclined to join in with the cheering herself. For the moment favouring moderately enthusiastic applause, she keeps up her running commentary for Irena’s benefit while still searching amongst the fleet’s display of sigils. Some, she describes in heraldic nomenclature rather than naming the family, apparently not entirely au fait with the emblems of all the Southron houses. “Still no sign of my own Northerners”, she murmurs to her two companions, before consciously quieting her worries.
Elanna’s eyes widen and with her own gasp, she reaches out to grasp Reyna’s fingers in a whiteknuckled grip, all smiles and excitement chased away by stormclouds of shared sorrow.
They descend from the ships like the returning heroes they are; puissant lords and splendid lordlings, mighty knights and brave squires—the crowds cheer them, every single one. And when even the meanest of them has left the deck of Lord Arryn’s flagship, leaving behind only the hostages and a few others—then he comes, a serpent writing upon his breast, an impassive look on his face. Around Dagur Saltcliffe is gathered a small company as different from what went before as night from day. Scarred, rough men these, and all their finery would not make up a thimbleful of the lords’ splendour; their garb is grey and faded.
A long look at the waiting crowd and the Ironborn knight murmurs a comment that leaves the pockmarked man at his left hand snorting with laughter. And with that, the Iron Serpent descends swiftly to the docks, his men behind him.
Jyana has partially disconnected.
She knows, deep within her, that as captain of the vessel, her cousin will be the last to disembark. Her hands clasped in front of her, the thin, hooded cloak she wears, a bit too big for her so as to completely cover her up, is trimmed with the colors of her House - sky blue and cream, and the cowl thrown over her head does well to hide most of her face and mask her features - as well as to keep the heat off her head. She stands to the side, just a bit away from the crowd. After all, she has waited this long for her family’s return, she could stand to wait a little longer. The reception of the royal family isn’t missed, and as everyone joins in the cheering, she does clap along with the rest of them, however she remains silent - a quiet observer in the present proceedings.
“Where is he?” her septa mutters, waving a handkerchief against her face. “Oh, but this -weather-...”
“He is the commander of the Falcon,” her charge remarks softly. “I am anticipating that he will be one of the very last to disembark. Flowers and livery never interested my lord cousin very much.”
Most of the Lannister host has returned upon the ship, and they can be seen descending the gangplank: tall, smiling, with golden hair and bright eyes. They clad to the man in crimson and gold, appearing almost like a pack of the animal that roars from the device etched on their breasts.
At their head is Ser Jonn, Black Jonn, and he looks out over the crowd before breathing an audible sigh of relief.
As the trickle from the ships slows, there’s another clarion call, trumpets now from all the vessels. They are not in unison, but they are loud indeed. This stills the crowd somewhat, and the attendants come from the royal party to usher the noble heroes forward nearer to Prince Viserys and Prince Baelor, who move apart from the rest. Perhaps purple-eyed Viserys has made note that some seem to have better things to do than to come before the Hand and the King’s heir, but his expression is placid.
Finally having reached Sarmions location, Tancred greets his uncle with a polite bow, “They are making more noise than the one originating from a battlefield, Uncle.. and the stench here is almost as bad.” He offers Sarmion a smile, then straightens up and turns his head to watch the royal family.
Irena’s eyes briefly pause in scanning the crowd, her taller companion’s worry briefly echoed on her expression, but it brightens again when she spots with Lannister host. She finally looses the battle of will that has kept her from going up on her toes in her attempt to get a better view of that particular group.
Motioning subtly to his man with the casque, Ser Almer sends him—along with the dark-eyed girl—off into the press of the crowd. In half a moment they are out of sight.
The tall Griffin knight then nods to his remaining men to leave off with the adoring throng, and begins to make his way toward the royal party and the two Princes.
As the clarions call, Sarmion looks down on his nephew, the heir of Storm’s End, saying, “Stay here.” He nods his head to the men wearing his badge as he strides through the crowd to stand before the Princes. The Stormbreaker bows his head low, though he still towers a head above those that stand near him.
When this great company of knights and lords are before him, Viserys speaks. “My lords of the Seven Kingdoms, good knights and loyal men all, greetings!” the Hand says aloud to the gathered chivalry from the ship, though much of the crowd cannot hear it. “All has been made ready in the city, which loves you well. For a thousand years, Dorne has been defiant—“Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken”, as their Princes boasted. But no longer.”
Viserys pauses, looking to see what effect his words have, and then finishes, “You will have such escorts and attendants you require to safely reach the Red Keep or wherever it is you shall reside in the city. Tonight, we feast before the Iron Throne, in honor of the king and his champions.” And with that they are dismissed, as new troops of gold cloaks move forward almost in unison towards the docked vessels.
Reyna obligingly shifts her mare with the crowd being pressed back to make room for the Hand and the Heir. Unlike the others, she remains stoic as she turns her veiled face toward the Targaryens and the returning heroes; no raising in the stirrups. She listens attentively to Viserys, then turns to Ellana. “I fear we must wait to greet them until we return to the Keep,” she says, loudly enough to be heard over the renewed cheering of the small folk.
Again, a low comment lost in the din of the crowd—and his companions linger behind as Dagur threads his way through the press towards the Targaryen. There he waits as the Hand speaks, his head bowed—and when Viserys is done, he glances over his shoulder at the ships where the hostages line the decks.
Anticipating what the movements of the City Watch means, someone in the crowd shouts, “Dornish pigs!”, and immediately there are catcalls and insults being hurled from the crowd. It grows more restive, and the gold cloaks holding the line briefly waver befor they push the crowd back.
Elanna looks faintly disappointed at this, her eyes switching between the royal company and the gathering of black and gold somewhere in the distance.
Carmella raises herself up a bit on her toes to try and get a better view as well as a hope to hear what the Prince is saying to the returning knights. She’s certainly closer than a good deal of the crowd, but there is a good deal of noise, she can only pick up a few words here and there. She frowns a little at this, eyes narrowing as if a gaze could silence so many people. “I don’t yet see my brothers,” she says, dropping back down on her heels and looking to Marian and Irena.
Reyna watches her friend’s reaction closely, then shakes her head. “Go to them, then,” she murmurs, reaching out toward Elanna, though she is not near enough to touch her. “Nightmare can make it with no trouble. Go to Sarmion.”
Bryce looks around him like a lost young knight who has no idea where to go. He looks right, where even Jonn Lannister of all Sers seems to be recieving welcomes, to the left, where other knights who were alone on the ship are being recieved, and then ahead, where all the royalty have gathered. Seeing none of these ‘escorts’ that Viserys mentions, the young Caron knight starts moving aside to make room as the shouting starts anew, this time targeting the Dornish, his eyes rising towards the ship. A few moments of thinking passes by, and Bryce Caron heads back towards where the ship is anchored.
Joined now by another small group nobles, their garb dominated by black and red, of whom at least one appears to have come off the ship only moments ago, Aisling finds herself briefly engaged in exchanging greetings with her Blackwood kin. Her bastard-born uncle and step-sister remain a little to the side, sharing no such kinship. But then most everyone’s attention is directed back towards the ship, as the crowd starts shouting their insults and, in some cases, throwing various not precisely fresh vegetables.
For a brief moment, Tancred frowns as his uncle commands him to stay put as if he was a child. But then a few more flowers flies in his direction and the young man cannot help peering into the crowd at the direction the flowers came from, offering a smile as thanks. Then his eyes gaze back at Sarmion, now waiting for whatever gruff orders his uncle might issue next.
“We can hope to see axes, wolves and lightning flying from another fleet, perhaps. We know that this is only a portion of the army, after all”, assures Marian with as much hope as certainty, pitching her voice to carry to Carmella and Irena. Then she sighs. “Oh, dear. I feared that this triumphal parade of human booty might turn out to be less chivalrous than might have been hoped…”
The Dornish captives come more clearly into sight as they mount the gangplanks of the vessels that brought them so far from their homes and begin the descent to the dock of King’s Landing, from which the Iron Throne now rules all the realm from the Wall to the Summer Sea. The first Dornishman to touch the dock of King’s Landing is Prince Cadan, the defeated Prince Marence’s brother, with several Dornish knights and ladies following in his train to the waiting company of watchmen below.. From Ser Artys’s Falcon, young Princess Ariana mounts the gangplank as well. Proud and defiant, not bent necked at all, Cadan is a sight in his bright robes of red and yellow. His sister is more timid, or so it seems. Attended by servants and by ladies-in-waiting—several hostage women aboard the Falcon, several young noblemen—Ariana comes to the base of the her the Falcon’s gangplank whilst Cadan and the hostages upon his vessel do the same.
Liane is pale beneath her tan as it comes time for the Dornish to depart the ship, and there’s something just a little bit wild in her eyes as she looks over the great crowd once more. Swallowing, she finally gives her brother’s hand a squeeze before stepping forward to attend to Princess Ariana. A deep breath is drawn, her chin rising and shoulders squaring, before she follows the procession. Determined, she keeps her lashes lowered, all the better to keep out the sight of thousands of bodies crushing together - and the sting of flying objects more solid than insults.
After dropping back down to her normal height, Irena turns glace at Carmella, admitting, “I did not see anyone in Dondarrian colors. I do not think that means much though.” Her eyes goes back to the ships as the Dornish begin departing. She nods solemnly to Marian, remaining silent on that subject.
Rising to his full height, Sarmion offers a cryptic smile to the Prince’s words and those the crowd offers then turns back to rejoin his group of veterans. The kettlehelmed warriors take stock of the Baratheon men that Tancred has brought with him, making snide comments or laughing openly. The Stormbreaker laughs with them as he arrives, saying, “Well, that was a warm welcome for those Dornish maggots.”
One or other of the soldiers looking at the Princess, draws his thumb across his neck, adding, “Yeah, lets hope they brings a smile them.”
The Baratheon knight shakes his head as he turns to one of those wearing his badge, “Make sure the baggage is ready. I’ve sent word that there be horses here to meet me, so I will ride ahead. When you reach the manse, raise the house standard from the roof and over the gate raise Revenge.”
Bryce remains at a distance from the Dornish hostages that are emerging, but he isn’t part of either group - the Gold CLoaks and the Dornish there, all the knights and families there, and then a lone yellow knight in the middle, now struggling with the crowds while trying to decide where to go.
Elanna looks uneasily at the crowd, as Nightmare shifts beneath her, his hooves loud on the stone. As the vehemence of the crowd grows in the wake of the Dornish prisoners, the Baratheon maid casts a glance to Reyna.
“If this grows ugly, it would be dire if Nightmare panics,” she chews on her lip, “Perhaps I should go. Take him out of this fray.”
Unbowed, Unbent and Unbroken will Dorne remain for a millennia, even if Viserys speaks his proud words, and Lady Marcia’s daughter curses him thrice in her thoughts. Then, as they are invited to move, Lanei steps backwards once, so that Princess Ariana will have more room to walk, and she cannot help but pity the Martell lady. “Worry not, my princess. You should meet, very soon, your brother” she whispers to her as the young lady walks past the lady-in-waiting; after a short moment, she starts walking after the princess and to the gangplank.
Now she has a better view of both the dock and crowds and, unwillingly, she shivers beneath the cloak as her eyes are locked, for a moment, by the impressive and towering shape or what, doubtless, must be the Red Keep. And… she lifts a handkerchief, shortly, to her nose, her eyes looking for a heartbeat to her bandaged left wrist. Used for some weeks to the life on board -even if cabins are not the best place to dwell, she has not been there for long- and the sea scent, the docks smell really… bad. At least to her.
“Where is your wife, Ser Jonn?” one of the more impudent young Lannister bannermen asks of his elder cousin.
The golden-brows knit in momentary confusion, which is followed swiftly by long laughter. “Drunk on news of my demise, like as not,” Black Jonn replies, moving forward with his squire and several close boon-companions.
Amidst the lords and ladies in Prince Cadan’s following is one who does not look so different from they, clad in flowing robes of lilac and white and indigo. Ser Aidan strides down the gangplank with head high, as proud as all the rest of his countrymen and women. Yet he is young, and in a foreign land, and perhaps his dark eyes are a little wider than they would be if he were unmoved as he looks upon the writhing, jeering mass.
Reyna responds to Elanna by raising first her veil, and then a brow. “You have Sarmion’s mount, dearest,” she says, dropping the veil back into place. Without speaking further, she allows her gold-and-green clad guards to lead her back toward the edges of the jostling frey, bringing her near to Bryce Caron.
She pauses there, looking down at Bryce through her black veil. “Have no kinsman come to greet you, ser?” she asks him kindly.
As the hostages appear, Dagur remains where he is save for stepping aside to avoid the crush of gold cloaks. He finds himself beside the Connington knight then:
“The last time I saw so many gathered in one place, it was under the sun banner and they were doing their best to kill me.”
Gold cloaks form up around the Dornish hostages and officers command the Dornishmen to move to where the Hand stands. The gold cloaks make a desultory effort to put a stop to the flinging of rotten fruits that begins as the Dornish are led forward towards Prince Viserys, but largely they let the crowd do as they will. Only those who try to push past the lines are treated harshly, beaten down with cudgels and forced back into the mass.
As the shouted insults start to go up through the crowd Carmella starts to look a little uneasy, but there’s nowhere for her to slink off to, if that was her desire. She’s gotten enough odd looks already and that was even before the ships arrived. Luckily her clothing marks her as a Dondarrion and nothing rotten has been yet tossed in her direction. But it doesn’t bring much relief either. At Marian’s words she gives the Stark woman a nod but quickly turns her attention back to the departing hostages, fixating on them as many others have done, but without the insults and thrown fruits.
“I expect a horse to be brought here to me as well,” Tancred says, looking briefly at Sarmion, “Do you wish me to accompany you, or should I make my way for the feast?” He glances at Sarmion, inquiring. He offers the Dornish prisoners a quick glance, “People should have seen them when they did indeed look like maggots, drenched in mud and blood on the field of battle.. Now they appear almost human.” He smiles dryly.
Bryce jumps at the surprise of someone speaking to him, having been fairly oblivious of Reyna’s approach. “What? huh?” he says at first, before eyes widening somewhat at the sight of her and all the guards. When the words register, he gives her a small bow. “I am certain that I have just failed to find them, or them me..” the polite reply comes, even if his expression says that he isn’t so sure about that.
Elanna looks at the crowd for a moment and finally holds her hand out to the groom.
“Give me the reins,” she murmurs. The groom edges forward, wary of Nightmare’s hooves and places the black leather reins of Sarmion’s mount into her palm. With visibly gritted teeth, Elanna edges Nightmare forward, toward where it is that Sarmion instructs his men. For once, her own mischievous animal behaves.
“Sarmion!” she calls above the noise of the crowd, nigh only ten feet or so from him.
“You shall likely have to find them in the Keep,” Reyna replies, craning her neck around and waving a hand at the ever more raucous crowd. “I’ve an extra mount, if you like, and can always use an extra escort to clear the way for me…”
Connington laughs at the Iron Islander’s trepidatious remark. “Give this lot time, Dagur. They’ll want to kill you too, once they get to know you.”
Almer looks into the crowd, searching for something, or someone, amidst the sea of faces. One of his men nudges him and points at a group of ladies on horseback.
The lords and ladies of Dorne make a brave, colorful show—to a one, they’ve dressed in their best robes and many show the wealth of their houses by the jewels they wear. Yet they are defeated, captives of the Targaryen king, and it is all for naught. When at last they are gathered before the Hand, Viserys ... studies them for a time, in silence.
“The Seven smiles upon you, who have made a long journey from your homes. You will be made welcome in the Red Keep, and treated with all honor….,” he tells them, looking at Cadan. “Once you and yours have sworn vows that you shall make no attempt to escape, and to obey the King your guardian in all things.”
“Dorne,” Sarmion answers his nephew with a feral grin, “Where the men dress like women, and the women sleep in empty beds.” The men around him laugh grimly.
Hearing his name called, the Baratheon knight looks over the heads of the crowds to see Nightmare and a large grey crouser parting the crowd towards him. With two massive arms, the Stormbreaker pushes half a dozen people to either side, to clear the way for his sister.
“Move it, you clotpoles!” his voice booms out over the crowd and the people nearest flinch as if they were struck.
Unbowed, unbent, unbroken is a tall order so far from home, surrounded by a jeering crowd flinging refuse. Yet as the Gold Cloaks surround the hostages, Liane Uller does her best to keep her chin up, even if it means mud or lettuce leaves striking it. As the pair of princes face off, she looks quietly over the rest of the Targaryen royalty, lashes still lowered to conceal her gaze.
Either the bastards throwing those rotting fruits to them aimed miserably or the Maiden protected them -Lanei got none- ... or the Gold Cloaks managed well enough to parry them. She does not care for, even if they had reached her, the dormish lady has set her mind: she will not move even an inch to dodge them. And thus she is brought before Viserys, her chin lifted and fearless… apparently, and ignoring the commonfolk’s insults and ill-words.
Looking upon the king’s uncle and siblings, Aidan’s expression is inscrutable, a stony mask that’s as revealing as if he were scowling. As Viserys’s words reach his ears, his eyes flash and his face is briefly down-turned as if to hide some grimace.
Turning briefly from her Blackwood kin and back to her uncle, Aisling rather exasperatedly remarks, “Let us hope this is over with sooner rather than later. I have no more liking for King’s Landing now than when we arrived a week ago, and I grow rather weary of this spectacle.” With a glance over at the Hand, now greeting the gathered Dornish hostages, she adds, “At least Prince Viserys does not seem inclined to lengthy speeches. A good quality in a Hand as well as a King, I would say.”
“I could not, my lady, but you have my gratitude” the Caron knight replies. “My mount will be brought forth after the hostages, I’m sure..” He glances towards the ship, then back at her: “But I should hope it will be soon.” He looks a tad bit confused still, looking around to try to see if his kin shows up at last.
“We have sworn such vows,” Prince Cadan says to the older Prince Viserys, in protest. “We have sworn them beneath the dome of the Tower of the Sun, in Sunspear, before King Daeron. They are holy vows, sworn before the Seven. The king accepted them, my lord Hand.” It is an attempt at a reproach, surely. There is a murmur from the other Dornishmen and women, in agreement.
“As you like, then,” Reyna replies with a slightly cool tone. One of her grooms leans to tap her arm, and she follows the point of his finger. She wheels Lily around as well as she can, then raises in her stirrups to wave twice at Almer.
“No doubt,” returns the Ironman drily. “They weren’t best pleased when I last rode in a tourney here.” With that he falls silent, watching the Dornish hostages appear before the Hand.
Elanna shifts Nightmare slowly closer, to look only a half foot or so down at her elder sibling, holding both reins in a firm grasp. Her smile is gentle and her words for the two of them.
“Thank you for coming home safe to me, brother,” her words seem to catch in her throat, “And thank you for bringing home my husband.”
Such a change wrought in the maid. She casts back her black veil to espy clearer and holds out her hand to Sarmion.
“Even so,” says the Hand of the King, almost gently. “Swear them once more.”
“I am sorry?” Bryce suggests, looking after the lady with a regretful look. “Damn it,” he mutters to himself, shaking his head as she is all of a sudden busy waving at someone else. “Damnit,” he repeats again as he starts trudging through people once again, idly noting the throwing of assorted rotten things that mix nicely with the rest of the stench. He seems to be headed in the direction of the ship to finally retrieve his mount.
Taking the bridle of the grey courser in hand as Elanna releases it. Then does Sarmion take his sister’s hand in his own large grasp, to kiss her fingers. His blue eyes darken as he bows his head to her words, “I could not save him, sister. Forgive me. His killer fell to another cheating him of Mercy.”
At his last words his shield hand falls to the hilt of his sword.
Benedict has been among the Northern throng disembarking from the ship, though it is only now that he is specifically visible from the rest of the contingent.
It is an outrage, what Viserys demands, to doubt the word of the hostages. Some color red in fury, barely holding their tongues. Others are less disposed to silence. “My prince,” Ser Aidan says, briefly touching Cadan’s arm to get his attention. He glanes, briefly, to Viserys, before saying urgently. “Do not do this thing. What can they do, that they have not already done? My lord the Hand knows that what he does is done for the smallfolk, to please them and them alone. There is no honor in it.” Others take up what he says, echoing him. The gold cloaks around them grip their spears more tightly.
“Seven hells,” Almer mutters, seeing the flicker of movement in the crowd. “There’s my little cousin,” he says to Saltcliffe. “I had hoped not to see her until this mummer’s show was finished, at least.” Connington frowns at some private turmoil, then eyes the Dornish lords with faint distaste.
“They don’t know when they’re beaten, do they?” he adds, sotto voce.
Tancred looks at Sarmion and Elanna greeting eachother, the youth again forgotten. He turns his head as one of the guards brings him his mount from the ship and moments later he sits in the saddle, now eye to eye with Elanna. He greets her simply by nodding at her, not wanting to interrupt the conversation she has with her brother. Afterall it havent been long since he spoke to her last, when he brought back the body of her husband, the corpse he had defended along with a group of Baratheon guards.
Benedict moves up with the Gold Cloaks, trying to get a better vantage. He senses their tension and stands ground among them.
Viserys is phlegmatic before the Dornish protests, looking at Cadan frankly, waiting to see what the young defeated prince shall do. Cadan returns the gaze, then looks at the jeering, restive crowd .... and bends the knee. There is a moment in which the Dornishmen and women take in their breath, wrestling with what they must do—a thing that shouts against their pride, and now to have to do it again…
But Cadan swears as he is commanded, eyes stalwart upon Viserys, and the others must follow suit, with pride or without.
“Lady,” the Tyrell guard says more urgently, putting himself in Reyna’s line of sight. “This looks to get ugly. We must away to the Red Keep…NOW.”
Reyna settles back into her saddle with a sigh. “As you like,” she says, her voice resigned. Her agreement sets in motion a rustling among her attendants as they form up protectively around her, a shield as it were of green and gold, all hands on sword hilts in readiness. Their progress through the crowd begins slowly, but soon the common folk are moving swiftly out of the way of the barked commands and the ungentle application of cudgels.
Elanna moves to rest her fair hand upon Sarmion’s cheek.
“There is nothing to forgive, brother,” her eyes sorrow-clouded dark, “My heart went cold the day I heard, but it is the Dornish swordbearer that took his life I will not forgive, whether he lays dead or no.”
And Tancred? She does acknowledge the man, perhaps not having espied him.
“You are as dear to me as ever, and I rejoice at your return.”
“Get out of my way. Begone!” Bryce suddenly shouts as a commoner has managed to come close to where the knight is, and Bryce takes out some of his aggression on this particular fellow, grabbing hold of him and shoving him to the side ( also preventing a rather close toss of a rotten fruit, instead it ends up being dropped and mashed against the ground ). When he finally sees his courser, he pushes his way through guards and other people, and it is with a sigh of relief that the young knight finally gets to hold onto something familiar again, the reins of his mount.
The Ironman follows Almer’s gaze desultorily; his attention is swiftly drawn to the clash of royal wills happening but a few paces away: “A man will cling all the tighter to his last possession. Their pride is all they have left.”
He glances at the crowd thoughtfully: “The crowd seems full willing to resolve this itself if…ah!”
And in that moment, the Dornish prince bends the knee.
“My own people can testify to the good grace with which some past Targaryens could accept a conquest”, murmurs Marian to Carmella and Irena, “and have enjoyed the fruits of loyalty thereafter as a result. I wonder what fruits are being planted here today by the staging of this display? But I am merely a foolish Northern barbarian, of course, and know nothing of how a kingdom should truly be run.”
A pained expression crosses Liane’s face when Cadan bends the knee, though there is nothing left at that point but to follow suit. Slowly, she kneels as well, though it isn’t the prince she watches as she does. It’s the crowd. They, after all, seem to pose a far more immediate danger.
Biting back—well, partially, at least—a most unladylike curse, Aisling is most dismayed by the words spoken by one of the hostages. “We are likely to be here until late tonight ...” she mutters. But then the Dornish Prince, and his followers after him, does as requested by the Hand. Unused to King’s Landing, and to the dangers posed by an irate crowd, she seems to have given no thought to the potential danger in the situation, only to the possibility of being forced to remain here upon the docks for much longer.
Lanei, which mood had turned suddenly sour at Visery’s words, would have applauded Prince Cadan’s claim without to think twice… but eventually she does, and thus, her hands remain clasped and quiet, now waiting for Daeron’s Hand answer. Looking sidelong at Princess Ariana, just to check if she is doing well and got no rotten fruit either, her attention is drawn back to the Targaryen Prince. Ser Aidan’s words sound right, although she is not sure what Prince Cadan will decide to do, if to heed the advice of Ser Aidan or not. So, as her Prince bends his knee, Skyreach’s heiress do as the Martell and drops to her knee as well. Why, she already did, there at Sunspear. And yet, her mood remains the same sour.
Aidan is not the last to follow Cadan, but neither is he the first. He, too, swears his vows, with a show of grace that is just that—a show. There is a sullen dignity to him as he rises up to his feet once more.
Benedict of Amberly watches the display of royal power wide-eyed. His eyes rest especially on Liane as she bends the knee. He calms the Gold Cloaks around him with quiet words.
Looking over the flanks of Elanna’s horse, Sarmion regards the Dornishmen and the crowd about them. Glowering, he turns to his soldiers, his voice hard with the tones of command, “Form a line. Shields before. Ready crossbows.”
In a moment, the veterans wearing his badge step up, putting themselves between the crowd and the Baratheon group. They plant their pavisses in the soft mud beyond the docks and the sound of their windlasses fill the air with a clanking hum. The Stormbreaker steps past his sister’s horse and crosses his arms, waiting for what the mob will out.
“The crowd is getting restless,” the septa observes, reaching out to take her charge’s arm protectively. “We must—” A blink, for she finds nothing but air.
“....oh, that -girl-!”
Having slipped away, walking as if she hadn’t just escaped the older woman (again), the cloaked maiden slips through the throng of people. While it was quite difficult to see what is going on in detail, there is one person she sees, one who stands heads and shoulders, literally, above a group of girls of similar age to her from the opposite ways where she had just been standing earlier. Whenever she catches Marian’s eyes, she puts a finger to her lips to signal quiet, and turning slightly, her hands come up…in an effort to place both her hands over Carmella’s eyes playfully. But not very long, she can observe that her friend is quite interested in eyeing the hostages.
“I take you found something interesting?” she asks, having leaned over to whisper it to Carmella, and to direct her voice into her ears so she could hear it despite the crowd.
“Well, it looks like the show is over. They are stiff-necked bastards,” Almer says appreciatively, “but you have to admire their courage.”
He puts a hand on the shoulder of one of his griffin-liveried men. “Andryck, see if you can find us a couple of horses, will you?” Connington glances at Ser Dagur. “Are you provided with a mount, or are you going to risk the walk to the Keep?”
Irena cannot help but look relieved as the Dornish Prince kneels, a more that will hopefully defuse the situation as much as possible. Her hazel eyes turn back to Marian and Carmella, but she remains awkwardly silent, not wishing to speak badly about either group. Her height ensures that she can’t see the cloaked figure that comes to the group until she’s upon them, but it’s a struggle for her to hid her expression and not give Carmella a hint.
Nightmare shifts uneasily, moving his rump at the sudden action of weaponry about him.
“No..Nightmare…” Elanna’s voice is low, not doubt she is trying to keep any rising vestige of panic from her tone, “Come on, boy…” She leans down to smooth her hand across his neck, “shhhh.”
Benedict Rogers breaks from among the Gold Cloaks and joins the cavaliers retrieving their mountss from the transport ships now docked and tethered. He takes the bridle of his white desterir and monts the animals, trotting away from the dock over toward the line of Baratheon men.
Bryce takes the reins and starts leading his courser at first, keeping an eye on the hostages and the crowds around them while making way through the very same crowd. No guards to do it for him, so a man must do it himself. “Her own loss, damned if I be humiliated..” he mutters to himself, stopping only for a moment to try to look at the kneeling Dornish. Although, he seems to have missed the most dramatic parts.
“I accept your oaths,” Prince Viserys, the Hand of the King, says. It is so very simple, this authority over the Dornishmen, and the crowd loves it as it cheers and jeers. Nodding to the gold cloaks, Viserys continues succinctly, “You shall come behind us to the Red Keep, on mounts from the royal stable. There shall be time to refresh yourselves before this evening’s feast.” And with that, they are commanded to make another show of themselves before the gathered court. He does not greatly seem to care how they react, however, for then he’s on to giving Ser Richard Harte some commands, and moving to mount upon a steed held by attendants.
Carmella had been focusing all of her attention on the goings-on between the Targaryens and the hostages that she heard nothing behind her. Her lips are slightly parted, waiting with anticipation as to what is to transpire, only to have it ruined by the sudden and unexpected interruption by a then unknown person. Squealing loudly in surprise, Carmella attempts to jump away from her ‘attacker’ before she turns to find Jyana behind her. Hand to her chest, the Dondarrion girl attempts to catch her breath while shooting the Arryn girl a disapproving look. But that look lasts only a moment before she’s smiling and shaking her head at her friend’s joke. “Truly, that wasn’t ...” Carmella’s words are cut off first by the kneeling of the hostages and then by Jyana’s words in her ear. “Indeed,” she murmurs, glancing again back at the blonde beside her, though she doesn’t offer more of an answer than that.
The young heir of Baratheon sits quietly in his saddle watching his uncle taking care of business. Tancreds face is expressionless, hiding whatever emotions he may contain inside. He offers the surrounding crowd a few smiles and nods however, to acknowledge their presence. When a guard has mounted another horse next to him, he turns his attention towards Sarmion, waiting for him to proceed.
The other Targaryens follow suit, Aegon with Naerys, the children in the company of sworn shields and septas, and more. The crowd cheers loudly as this happens, and surge again against the gold cloaks, who barely hold them back. But now at least they’ll be able to focus on keeping the road to the Red Keep clear, rather than having to guard the whole perimeter of the docks. The crowd, it’s thirst for spectacle sated for the time being, begins to slowly disperse now that the Dornishmen are encircled by a heavy guard of watchmen and the Hand and the royal children prepare to move on to the River Gate.
Over their shields, the Stormbreaker’s crossbowmen look over the rim at the crowd nearest, not bringing their weapons to bear. The mob pays them no heed, straining as they are to look upon the Dornish circus. Sarmion stands still, jaw set, eyes glowering, waiting for humanity to rear its ugly head and do the expected bloody thing.
“Hold,” he barks lowly, as some of his men stir.
Liane lets out a swift breath of relief despite herself at the mention of mounts, head lowered from her kneeling to hide her expression. When she rises, though, it is as though she only knelt to recover a lost earring. Certainly the habitual straightening of skirts that follows holds no shame, no bright-eyed defiance. Only quiet, determined indifference.
Benedict of Amberly rides up along the flanks of the Baratheon men. He wheels his courser about, holding his lance high to join the toops facin the crowd. “My lord,” he says to Sarmion during a lull. “I am son to Arson of Amberly, and my lance is yours to command this day if you need it.”
Marian looks down and around at Jyana with some surprise, then grins and lifts a hand to lightly brush her fingertips against the Arryn girl’s shoulder by way of a greeting easily communicated in spite of the din of the crowd.
Looking up at the horseman, Sarmion glances back at the crowd, “That is good to know, Rogers. But we may not need your lance just yet.”
His arms still crossed, before his chest, the Stormbreaker waits, watching the crowd.
“I have a horse,” is the laconic reply. “Unless Poxy’s sold him off to some Flea Bottom stewmaker. Ah, there.”
And he raises a hand and marks himself to the pockmarked man who is making his way through the press leading a snorting mount that seems far more well-groomed than its handler. The half-dozen men with them, wearing well-used swords and fierce scowls, are enough to send people from their path.
With that—and a nod in farewell to the Connington knight—he makes his way there.
And what if we are not in the right shape and mood to attend your feasts, my lord? Lanei would love to ask, but she is aware that such a query is out of the question. Yet, Viserys mentioned horses and, coming the mounts from the royal stables or not, that makes her eyes shine. To ride a horse, again! Even if for a short while… Thus, as the Targaryens leave, and Prince Cadan and Princess Ariana follow them, she does the same. Certainly, the lady is not dressed to ride, but this is of no importance now. Even if used to ride as a man, instead as ladies would -especially those around King’s Landing- Lanei is pretty sure that she will do fine as always.
Bryce mounts up at last, vastly improving his field of view, but also becoming a lot more visible to the crowd as well as the Dornish. Perhaps his relatives (if they are there) will see him now. If not.. maybe someone else will. He slowly starts leading his courser towards the Red Keep, but stays close to the Gold Cloaks and the Dornish, as if he’s a riding escort to their tightly packed group. His eyes scan the hostages from his high vantage point, his expression proud yet still undeniably lonely with blue eyes that are gleaming strangely, like they’re wet.
Benedict nods at Sarmion’s words. He puls back on the reins at withdraws slightly, lowering his lance. He spots Tancred and takes up a position closer to him, spearpint lowered.
Following Prince Cadan to where dozens of royal mounts—palfreys, all, with not a destrier in sight—are being held for them, the Dornishmen seem largely indifferent to what horses they take. Aidan ... not so much so, as he passes by several placid-seeming geldings to come across a spirited, grey-spotted steed, a horse gelded late by the thickness and arch of its neck. He glances at the attendant and then ignores the man as he moves to offer a leg up, rising up into the saddle with a knight’s grace. Within moments, the prancing steed is calmed and relatively biddable.
Elanna holds tight to the reins as her horse eyes the new arrival. She watches the events around the breadth of her brother’s back, tearing the veil from her head entirely and letting it flutter to the dust, perhaps annoyed with its continual shifting about her pale face.
“Sarmion…” she murmurs uneasily, “What is happening…?”
Benedict looks over his shoulder at the sound of Elanna’s voice. He gazes at her through the visor of his basinet, what might be a stare were his green eyes visible in return.
All this Jonn Lannister has watched with mild disinterest. As a handler brings his horse towards him, he looks at it speculatively. “What do you think, boy?” he asks of his squire. “Should we ride, or perhaps walk and stop by Flea Bottom on our way to the Red Keep?”
“But sir,” the boy points out logically, “Flea Bottom isn’t on the way to the Keep.”
As the departure from the Docks gets underway, a pair of mounts are brought forward for Aisling and Sylvina by the former’s uncle, Henly. One is a placid-looking but elegant palfrey with a glossy chestnut coat, the latter a rather more spirited animal with an almost shaggy appearance to its abundant mane and tail. It is this horse that Aisling is quick to mount, without waiting for anyone to offer her a leg up, and she handles it easily with one hand upon the reins while arranging her skirts over the saddle. Sylvina is not so quick to get on her horse, even with a helping hand from Henly, and she takes meticulous care with her skirts.
Horses they may be…but they certainly aren’t the sandsteeds of home. If Liane is somewhat disappointed by the horses lined up, she doesn’t show it much, waiting patiently as the quieter mounts are handed off to the young and less experienced. The bay mare held before her is inspected with a slight smile, fingers brushing through the horse’s mane before, just as a leg up is offered, she lifts herself into the saddle, the lack of help unnoticeable to all but the closest. Thanks to the loose trousers beneath her gown, she finds no difficulty or shame in sitting astride, settling her weight comfortably in the saddle.
“I am waiting for the pleasant folk of King’s Landing to start tearing apart the Dornish folk, each other, and any fucking noble stupid enough not to keep a guard about them,” Stormbreaker answers, still unstirring. Looking down at the soldier farthest to the right, he says, “Baldwin, wait until the mob disbands.”
His jaw clenching and unclenching, the Baratheon knight looks over at the walls beyond the docks, muttering, “I hate this fucking city.”
Benedict grips his lande more firmly at Sarmion’s hard words. He looks from Elanna to the senior knight, an then back to Elanna.
“Perhaps we should simply depart along with the rest?” Tancred asks dryly, “It appears that the Dornish dogs are well guarded by the goldcloaks.” He looks breifly at Benedict, offering him a polite nod. He then falls silent, knowing very well that if his uncle wants to stirr up some bloodshed, then there would be nothing in the world he could do about it.
Viserys gives a last look behind him from his steed, seeing that all is in order. A nod to Ser Richard, and orders are shouted. The gold cloaks close their ranks more tightly, and begin to escort the triumphant heroes and the defeated Dornishmen towards the River Gate for the journey to the Red Keep. Though the crowd has thinned somewhat, some who anticipated this have merely waited by the Gate and the square beyond, and all along the way there are denizens of the city looking on. Cheers greet the Targaryens and the victorious knights, and jeers and more rotten vegetables and even more unmentionable offal greet the Dornishmen.
If possible Elanna’s features grow more pale. To the situation? Or to the unexpected vehemence in the Stormbreaker’s tone? She casts aside her gaze to where her fine veil lies in the dust.
Bryce casts a final long gaze out over the crowds, the Dornish who have barely noticed him, the nobility that holds none of his relatives, the guards, the distant groups heading towards the keep. Finally, he sighs to himself, wipes his sleeve over his eyes like rubbing the sleep out of them, and then steers his mount towards the Stormlanders and Baratheon in a bit of a hurry to try to catch up to them.
“Forgive me, I couldn’t resist, you looked so very concentrated,” Jyana remarks, keeping her hood on, and her visible mouth tilting upwards at the corners. “I’ve never seen you look so studious in the few days I’ve known you.” She also turns to smile visible at Irena and Marian. “I believe my unwitting co-conspirators have been very kind to oblige me.” She would wink, of they could see her eyes to begin with, but then she falls silent, once the royal entourage and others continue moving forward. And then, her gaze drops towards the hostages. Whatever apprehension she has, as she has not caught a glimpse of her relatives as of yet, it is hidden behind the slightest of smiles.
“See you there.” Ser Almer nods to Dagur, then as his own man leads two dapple grey coursers up, he swings into the saddle with the practiced ease of a born horseman.
Now, with the additional height that being mounted gives him, he sweeps the melting crowd with his chilly gaze. He marks the massive Stormbreaker in the distance, and the two ladies nearby, and offers them a salute.
Connington’s horse champs at the bit and whirls defiantly, and he spurs into a canter, quickly passing the royal column in a flash of red and white.
Benedict lifts up his plain visor better to see the surroundings. He gives Tancred a knowing look, and too knows better than to speak at this time. His glance returns to Elanna as she searches for her veil in the dust. When he spots it, he points to it with his lancehead and gives her a gentle smile, if she deigns to notice.
Walking straightforward to one of the mares she spotted, Lanei simply ignores the help that one of the palfreys hurries to offer her and, slipping a foot on the stirrup, she lifts up and mounts the dark grey horse with elegance. Alas, the mare was not saddled for a lady but, going by the dornish woman way to mount -as a man would- it is evident that she cares it very little. “Nonetheless, I thank you the same” Lanei offers to the palfrey, and gets ready to kick the flanks of the mare - as soon as they are allowed to, that is. So, as the Targaryens, lead by Viserys, start moving, the lady does, despite she will try to keep her mare and ride next to Ariana. As before, the crowds will be conveniently ignored… and the Sevens offered a pray to save her to be the target of their rotten vegetables.
As the mob thins, the man named Baldwin rises to his feet, pulling his pavisse out of the stinking mud and slinging over his back after removing the bolt from his crossbow. He barks an order and the others down the line disarm. Finally, the whole company is on its feet, slinging shields and crossbows on their backs.
Marking Almer, Sarmion nods his head in greeting, then looks over at the men, “Alright, ladies, the fun’s over… Get back to work!” Turning to Tancred and the men beside him, he says, “Escourt our heir of Storm’s End to the feast. Ser Bendict, go with him.”
Marian cracks a slightly forced smile at Jyana, then glances around. “If you ladies would appreciate an escort, my cousin, Ser Elfram Locke, is just over there with some of my brother’s guardsmen and our horses. A body of men in mail and ahorse might well make our progress towards the Red Keep rather easier.”
Black Jonn takes one look at his squire, and then grunts, grabbing the reins and swinging up to his saddle. “Well, since you insist on taking all the fun out of life, let’s go!”
Then he begins to make his way through the crowd, winking, waving, laughing, and frowning as he goes. His squire follows behind him, with a very concerned expression.
Liane is in something of a hurry to get to the castle. Perhaps it’s something to do with the flinging of various unpleasant substances. As such, as soon as the column of hostages is on its way, Liane is gone with them.
Carmella turns again from watching the hostages and shakes her head at Jyana. “I can be quite studious when I wish,” she says, not hiding her teasing smile. Now that it seems the royal contingent and their hostages are heading for the Keep, so should she. Marian’s offer likewise draws a smile, but she shakes her head. “You are quite generous, but my horse is nearby,” she says as she glances around for her groom to bring the beast forth and to offer her a hand in climbing into the saddle.
Benedict nods to Sarmion and answers, “Aye, Ser Sarmion.” He looks over to Bryce as the younger man appraoches and says, “Squire, would you join your fellow Stormlanders?”
“Finally,” Tancred replies, his lips parting in a weak smile, revealing white teeth behind, “..hopefully there will be less screaming there, and hopefully the stench of fish and salty water will be replaced with that of roses and salted pork.” He waves at Benedict and the guard accompanying him, “Let us get moving.”
“Hold up! Someone!” Bryce drives his horse onwards, catching up with the Stormlanders and Baratheons. His eyes are still red, but he seems to be in control. “May I..” he starts, but Benedict is too fast, and Bryce looks surprised. “What?” he says, before he looks hurt and irritated. “I am a squire no longer, I was knighted for my deeds in the Conquest!” he says, haughtily raising his chin.
Benedict looks from Tancred to the ladies addressed by Sarmion. His gaze lingers, but then he looks again to the heir of Storm’s End. “Aye, I will press through th throng.” He lowers his visor and spurs his horse foorward.
Elanna’s gaze casts upward sharply at Tancred’s words, and she frowns with something approaching disapproval, but does not speak. As Bryce approaches, and speaks thus with Benedict she returns her gaze to Sarmion.
“Was it like this the whole way?” she queries of him dryly.
Benedict lets out an embarrassed laugh and says through his visor to Bryce. “Pardons, ser. When last I saw you, you were squire to a knight whoom I recognized. Come with us now, ser.”
Irena smiles briefly at Jyana, “It wouldn’t have been fair to give you away.” She eyes the leaving group of royalty and hostages before saying softly, “We should be leaving here soon.” She is not looking forward the riding, not in the slightest, but the small gray horse nearby, held by a groom dressed in the orange and gray of House Marbrand, more than likely belongs to the petite lady.
“I have not had the company of our brother’s heir for the entire journey, Sarmion answers, “He boarded when we stopped for fresh water in Storm’s End.”
A shorter man in Stormbreaker’s company, his face marked with a patchy beard and rotting teeth, makes a strange sound with his mouth as if there is some strange taste in his mouth he’s trying account for as he’s looking at Elanna.
“Pretty,” he says to one of the others standing near him, “She reminds me of this one tasty morsel I had myself that one time we left Blackhaven…” But the other soldiers wince and shake their heads as if trying to warn the fellow from his discourse. Too late, for Sarmion turns his eyes upon the man and the soldier stammers into silence, his face growing deathly pale.
To Elanna, Sarmion smiles disarmingly and bows slightly, saying, “Just a moment. There is a matter I must see to ere we can depart.” The large knight turns and heads towards a knot of his soldiers, among them the one who spoke out of turn.
“I will,” Bryce says, still displaying some hurt pride but he swallows it and straightens on his mount. Falling in with the others, the young knight scans them and especialy looks at the Stormbreaker to see what he is up to.
Benedict dallies long enough to hear the soldier speak laciviously of Elanna. He raises his visor to see the offender, glaring. But when Sarmion moves to unleash his wrath, Benedict notes well the protectivnness of the man toward his kinswoman. He quickly spurs his horse forward, toward the keep. Making way for Tancred.
Elanna blanches at the words that came audibly to her ears, and turns a gaze suddenly stormy dark upon the foul-mouthed fellow.
“You weaselly scum,” she intones clearly, her voice travelling heatedly.
Looking at no one in particular, Sarmion suddenly says, “I told you…” slamming his fist into the offensive soldier’s face. The first blow sends the man’s kettlehelm and padded coif hurtling across the yard. Women scream thinking that the man has been decapitated. “...never…” the second blow knocks the man into the ground, “...to address…” a third blow follows “...my sister!”
The Stormbreaker drags the man by the collar of his quartered livery to the edge of the docks and throws the soldier into the Rush. Coming back from the edge, Sarmion glares at the gathered soliders in Baratheon colors, saying, “Anyone of you fucking whoresons so much as looks at the women of my household, I’ll have his eye out and piss down his skull. Now, go and fish that foetid rat turd out of the river and get the baggage to the manse!”
There are murmurs amongst the soldiery:
“No bint’s worth losing an eye over.”
“Yeah, that’s fair, I wouldn’t want me looking on my sister, neither.”
“Oy, you dumb bastard, enjoying your swim?”
From the river, the swimmer says, “What happened?”
“Stormbreaker happened to you, my son. Next time, he’ll put your eyes out and use your skull for a privy pot.”
“It’ll be the most use your skull has seen, Marsh!”
“Fuck you and get me out of here,” the Marsh answers as he floats in the Rush.
“Ahem..” Tancred looks at Bryce and Benedict, “.. We have a feast to attend.. My uncle has everything under control here.” He quickly guides his horse through the crowd, following Benedict. The Baratheon guardsman, also mounted, rides next to him, guarding his side, while Tancred waves for Bryce to ride to his other side.
Benedict does not hesitate to ride on the keep, after seeing Sarmion’s rage.
“And to think that we are supposed to be the barbarians”, murmurs Marian before turning to smile and wave at Ser Elfram the Loud, inviting him to bring forward guardsmen and horses alike so that a return to the Keep can be effected.
“I believe I shall take you up on that, La—Marian,” Jyana states softly, inclining her head at the forced smile. If allowed to do so, the younger woman will take the Stark lady’s arm gently, and loop her other around Irena’s. She nods to Carmella, and then smiles at the rest of them. “Why don’t we all go together? ‘Tis better, I think, than fretting over our relatives by our respective lonesomes.” And with that, she’s off, whenever they get moving.
Bryce smiles for the first time since he left the ship, and quickly rides up alongside Tancred. “The feast will not wait forever,” the Caron knight says with a brief nod, before hurrying his courser on.
Elanna watches the explosion of violence betwixt sibling and company-man with equanimity. Nightmare backpedals somewhat, and her voice is harsh as she speaks.
“Stay,” the command is unmistakeable, as is the jerk on the reins, as she turns that gaze upon her brother.
“Thank you, brother,” she arches her head in a bow at his return.
Glowering still, Sarmion mounts. “It won’t happen again,” he promises, darkly. And none of the men in their kettlehelms look above her horse’s hooves as they prepare the baggage as they were bid.
“Let us to the feast,” he says, setting spur to his grey steed.
Marian has left.
“Indeed,” Elanna replies softly, thus the Baratheon retinue finally departs the docks, her forgotten veil crushed beneath a dozen feet behind her.
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