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Lunch time passed a while ago, and the central chamber of the Dornish Tower looks really quiet. Most of the couches look empty, and only a few servants wander around the place. And, most likely, they are on duty, going by their hurry. Either they have duties to perform or are also retiring to their rooms to take their well earned nap. It is hot outside, and laziness has landed on Lanei’s companions, not only the Fowlers but also the rest, it seems.
The lady yawns, feeling so bored. What is she going to do with all her time? She has grown tired to read, to play, to daydream… and now she drags herself, idly, to the doorway, looking down at the nearly empty courtyard. A new yawn and she picks up one of the raisins from her palm, chewing it slowly.
Bryce has a whole lot more to do every day, his schedule packed, riding, sparring, training, writing, and there hardly goes a day by where the young knight has more than a few hours of socializing and resting. But, today he has taken some time off in the time where he usually goes to ride, to come walking for the Dornish Tower. He seems to be in a bit of an uncomfortable mood, but not in his distant and frowning fashion, but more like he is heading away from something that made him that way. His steps are taking him towards the tower where the hostages are kept. Maybe he hopes to meet with family, maybe someone else? It’s hard to tell. He’s walking slowly, watching his surroundings for a few moments before looking straight at the tower where he spots Lanei..
Bryce doesn’t bow just yet, instead of approaches a little more eagerly, and she can see a careful smile across his lips as he comes closer, looking a little bit hopeful.
For a moment, as she picks up another raisin, the dornish lady misses Bryce’s approaching her. Then, as she lifts her gaze to wander, again, the courtyard, Lanei notices that one of the Westerosi Knights is coming. In the end, it takes her a while to realize that, indeed, she knows the ser, and that he is Ser Bryce Caron.
His smile is met with one of her own, and a curtsy, as he gets closer to the Tower’s doorway. Yet, she will not speak a word until Nightsong’s heir arrives nearby, so that she will not need to raise her voice to greet him aloud. “Ah, good afternoon, my lord. Wandering idly the place, as I do? Or do you head to…?”. She leaves her words unfinished, for the lady, truly, has no idea of what the knight might be doing around.
“I have spent too much time in the company of those who’d make me uncomfortable, today,” Bryce offers with a wry look. “I thought I would look you, or another of my .. contacts, among your people, up. To hear if you had time to sit and talk. Everyone expects me to be out riding now, so I have quite a few hours before anyone expects me to be back. If we can head somewhere where no one will come looking as well. I am tired of sorry company of surface-deep courtesy..” He seems to rather irritated over things, and maybe a tad bit frustrated.
“Ay, I have all the time of the world” Lanei says, her eyes moving up to the sky, as if looking for the Seven’s understanding and forgiveness to her complaints. “As a matter of fact, time is all I can give you, and a couple of ears to listen quietly to you. Perhaps even a mouth to speak an advice, if need be, but we shall see if necessity comes or not.” She paces backwards once, and waves a hand to the couches, as if inviting him to enter the Tower. “It is really hot outside. Would you take a seat? We could speak quieter, for I would like to know who ruined your mood so badly.”
“Are there no public areas above?” the knight suggests, frowning somewhat as he looks back across the courtyard, then to her. “And your ears and perhaps a mouth to speak advice is all that I could request, my lady, so it pleases me in truth.” He sighs. “It’s not that my mood is ruined.. just.. Tired of it all.” He takes a few steps in, seeing the few other Dornish there, and he seems to tense up. He did not meet ladies like Lanei in battle, but among the others here, there could be those who stood on the other side of a field, who would not hesitate to kill him had they gotten a chance. He looks quickly to Lanei with a hopeful look that repeats his first question: “I would very much like to sit somewhere away from people.. of course with the proper escorts, but.. away from the ones who could say that I was here.”
To Bryce’s first question, Lanei nods, slowly. “Oh, indeed there are, my lord, and I would dare to say that the room at the second floor looks better than this one, even. Surely that was the reason to host the Prince and the Princess there. But I think the room might be crowded than this hall exactly because that, being the Martells’ suites around.” She pauses, “Some of us have our apartments there too, and I would invite you to them, but my cousins are there, and you are asking for some privacy…”
Looking around her, the dornish lady gestures to one of the corners, next to the windows. “I think that would be a good place to take a seat, and talk, if you like it. As for those on the opposite corner” she shrugs helplessly, “Ignore them? It is what I do, every time I leave the Tower.”
“There will do then,” Bryce finally admits after having thought about it for almost ten seconds. He gestures for it and starts walking rather boldly into the room and towards the corner, gaze firmly attached to the intended destination, even as he speaks: “It’s not as much that, as I am supposed to be riding right now. My Maester would not be pleased if he heard that I did not do so, but I cannot be urged to, today.” he explains with a determined and perhaps a tad bit frustrated tone.
Leading sometimes following, even- the Caron knight to the agreed place, Lanei nods a couple of times and, arriving to the corner, she drops herself on one of the couches. “Indeed, you look to be in a sour mood today, my lord” she ventures. Taking one of the cushions around, the lady embraces it with her arms and leans on the couch’s back. “I deem you might break your neck, if you tried to ride and, anyway, the horse is not the one to blame. Well” she smiles, “I am listening.”
Bryce sits down in a couch, sitting silent for a while, picking up some little trinket from nearby, holding it in front of him. He studies it, twists it and puts it down, like he’s trying to think of how to phrase things. He leans back, offering her a long considerate look, before shaking his head. “I just get this way when things slip out of my control, I do not like it.”
Lanei frowns a little upon his words. “I cannot help but wonder myself, my good ser, how would you feel if you were on our place. Trust me, this is a position you cannot control, even if you wished. Yet” she makes a short pause, “I do not know what happened to you. Will you ever tell me, Ser Bryce?”. Suddenly realizing of something, the lady rises to her feet and paces a couple of steps to one of the little tables, which features a jar and a few cups around. Checking that it is not empty, Lanei pours some wine on a cup and reaches it out to the young man. “See, I had forgotten, again, my manners.”
Bryce accepts the cup with a nod, still considering the situation. After a few more long seconds, he gives her an appraising look, like he wants to determine if he should really tell her. “If I was in your place, I would hopefully have died with sword in my hand, but lacking that, I would do what some do here. Stay away from everything and wait for them to find me some marriage, so I could go home and continue to serve my house best I could.” Duty speaking, clearly. “But I would not be fearful of what they thought of me, because I would not be expected to find any allies, so I would not feel obliged to try.” He takes a draught from the wine-cup, perhaps a bit too eagerly, then puts it down carefully, looking at it.
“Do you think the sers hosted in this Tower would not have liked to die as you said, my lord?” comes Lanei’s own question. “But the Gods refused to summon them to their side, and we should think that with some purpose. Well, only time will say.” The lady shrugs helplessly and resumes her former place on the couch, cushion and all. Feeling unsure of what he meant with his last statement, Lanei sighs and shakes her head. “Should I take that someone is really speaking poorly of you? Or thinking poorly. You are playing with words today, my lord of Caron and, alas, it seems I am not to understand you, especially since you do not speak openly about what disturbed you so much.”
The Caron chuckles. “I did not expect that someone would say that of me. I am sorry, my lady. I just met up with a good Ser and some of the local ladies, and as soon as they start talking with eachother, empty courtesy without meaning except to make sure that they all know the proper ways to do things.. I just wanted to go somewhere else, to talk about something real. My time here has been filled with too many empty discussions already, about nothing at all.” He glances at her, then drinks some more wine from his cup.
At this, the dornish lady cannot help but to sympathize a little. Tilting her head to one side, and smiling ֖even if it proves to be a sad smile-, she offers, “Such are they ways of the Court, my lord. Of any court. Incessant empty and silly chatter, well feigned smiles and words that will become dark as soon as you turn your back on them… It is the usual stuff. I have lived in a few courts, and know it. However, and with luck, you will find some doors to knock on, for not all the sers and ladies are the same, and they have different interests. I do hope you will, before to return back home.”
“I fear there will be a lot of time until I can return back, it sounded that way in my mother’s last letter.” Bryce looks at her again, like he often has the last few moments, like he’s considering her in different ways. “But unfortunately, as I seek others company, I again find that I can’t seem to find anything to talk about. I want to find something to do, my lady. I am a man of actions, but if I had gone out riding, I would have been confronted with all of them, always there, always waiting for something to happen.” Pause, and he seems to realize something - “What do you do to pass the time? What sort of person are you?” he says, watching her closely as he finishes his cup.
“And yet, my lord, you find not hard to speak to me, or to Lady Liane?” the Fowler lady says, softly, gaze dropped to the lap, for she has started playing with the embroidery line skirting the sleeves. “There is nothing wrong in you and, I deem, there is nothing wrong in them. As said, it is only you have different interests. Or, perhaps, the ladies are too shy to display a cheerful mood. Since, I suppose, I know not them, I cannot say.”
Lanei stops playing with the sleeves and lifts her eyes to meet Bryce’s. “I have duties to attend, you know, for I am one of the Princess Ariana’s lady-in-waiting. But such an honorable position steals me only a few hours. The rest of the time… I read… or walk…” With s sigh, she explains, “Back at home, or at least when I was free to wander, I liked riding and hawking, and to gather herbs to study them. And, of course, I needed to devote a part of my time to learn about those matters that any lord or lady should know, especially if they are expected to rule their seat in the future. But what sort of person am I? It is not my place to answer that question, my good lord. Others should. What kind of person do you think I am?.”
Bryce falls silent. “Originally, I started talking to you,” he slowly begins, after having listened to her story. “And especially Liane, since I wanted to learn why Dorne had waged such a pointless war. So many dead, marriages torn, and all just because you refused to bend. And I learnt why.. And then, I realized, that ladies from Dorne, Liane again mostly, since I talked to her after the feast with my blood encouraged by wine, are far from the others at the feasts. I could talk to her like I had during my year in Lord Tyrell’s host, like a knight in the field, at war.. that is who I am.” He looks a bit bitter at that, but nods. “My place is on the field, in armor and with a sword in hand, and women.. women were just something that happened. I hope I have not offended you.. but it is the truth of war. And she understood that, as I hope you will.” He gets a dark look in his eyes at that, then continues with a low, dangerous voice. “Every day, when I cannot press someone down with my shield and hit them across the face so they bleed, is a day where I instead remember the war. It isn’t pleasant.” He shrugs a bit violently, reaching over to pour some more wine up with the pitcher. “And everyone else pretends everything is like normal, a day at court.”
He seems so caught up in his own memories and story that he forgets about her other words, but remembering them, he adds: “And I do not know. I guess what I said answered my questions of what I expected you to be, too. Someone I could say that to.”
Lanei feels as if she could start beating him right now, and without further words. Dorne waged war?! And a pointless war, no less?! Do these proud and haughty sers have the littlest of the notions about what is an independent land, an honor, and courage? Did they forget so easily that they, too, fought the Targaryens roughly one hundred and fifty years ago?!. She takes a deep breath, getting ready to tell him, her eyes flashing and filled with wrath, and the hands grasping the cushion, but the Caron’s next words stop the speech that, doubtless, she would regret to speak.
“I do… understand” the dornish lady states, plainly, trying to keep her voice even. “I do understand” she repeats “that if your lord, or prince, or king, calls for muster, everybody needs to attend the call. This at least.” Lanei pauses again. “As I understand that you have grown too devoted to the battlefield to think on more pleasant matters. But, for the third time, not all the sers are the same. Some of them do not like war, or even tournaments, I have been told. Odd enough. As you can see, you were not wrong. You could tell me that”.
“To Hell with that,” Bryce mutters. “I was devoted to the field of battle since I was a little boy, just without the rest of the things. And what does it matter if all Sers are not the same? Obviously they aren’t, if they were all like me, we would probably have a lot more fighting, or at least bloodied noses. And the most pleasant matters I can think of is being at home, beating the other young boys with a blunt sword. Or it feels like that..” He looks at her again. “I did not know what I wanted to say with all this. At least I got to say it, eh?” he says, chuckling at himself quietly. “But what am I going to do with my days here. What are you going to do? What do people do? I was raised to wage war, and it is over.”
Going by her wondering eyes, the dornish lady seems to hesitate now. “Alas, my lord. I am not used to the customs of the north north from Dorne, I mean- to be aware of what do sers do or not, where they are not invading the south. Where I come from, aside to be trained in the military arts, well… they ride and hunt as well, or… read, or get drunk and bed women, and it worked for us for many years. And I would like to think that it is the same here.”
Then, the ghost of a smile touches her lips. “Indeed, you have been more than… talkative today. At least, I fail to remember to have listened to you, speaking this much, in the past. As for me… I am afraid that I will do exactly what they will allow me to do. How to draw plans, if I cannot even leave the Red Keep?. Yet, if I could, I would visit the city, and will ride outside to know a bit more what lies beyond the walls of King’s Landing.”
“I never talk this much,” Bryce grumpily agrees, before starting to empty his second cup of wine and pouring up new wine for her, whether or not she has finished hers yet. “Would that I had been a lesser man and a lesser knight, and I could have gotten drunk and bedded women as well, now I will settle with getting drunk. Do Ladies in Dorne ever get drunk, or at least tolerate someone getting drunk in their presence? If not, I will refrain of course.” He says with with a strangely tilted smile, raising a little toast to her. “And I will make sure you and lady Liane both will be able to leave the Keep, in time. It’s only been a week.”
“Ladies in Dorne drink wine the same they do here; at least for what I have seen. And if they drink too much, they will get a good headache the morning after and, perhaps, they will find out that they ended up joining the wrong bed.” Lanei does not look scandalized at the amount of wine this man drinks, nor for a moment; she just looks up at him with no few curiosity. “Why, my lord. Can’t you get drunk and bed women the same, just because you were high born? And nay, you do not offend me. On my account, you can empty the Keep’s wine cellars if it pleases you. But, pray, tell me the name of your squire, so I will send him word to come, with some of your servants, to bring you to your apartments. I do not think you would like to sleep here…”
She sniffs. “So, you too? Nay, I beg of you.” Lanei shakes her head. “Do not move a finger, or seek for anyone’s permission, to grant me their leave to wander outside the Keep. For I will not.”
“Look at that, well, you don’t have to, I was just attempting some kind of kindness.” Bryce says, and he has not actually emptied a second cup of wine yet. He sighs and leans back somewhat. “But there is hardly any fun in drinking alone. And yes, because I am high born, and I have a duty.. As a knight, I am supposed to protect the honor of the ladies, not stain it, am I not?” he asks, shrugging his shoulders like it could be either way. “And I have no squire. I was a squire myself up unto a few months ago. So I would simply have to refrain from drinking more than this second cup, if you think that is the case.” He glances at the cup, but leaves it for the time being.
“I think I missed the kindness part? Anyway, if that was an attempt to make me drink with you, know that I will not now, Ser Bryce, for if I did, I would soon fall asleep, and then you would be drinking alone again, and now, without a lady to speak with.” Lanei starts to feel uncomfortable, not because the wine topic, or the risk to have him drunk, but because she is failing to understand him. Wine’s side effects. “Well, if you have no squire, I will send word to your servants the same. If I recall correctly, you dwell at the Kitchen Keep, right?.”
Looking at his hand and the cup, she shrugs again, “Do as you wish, my lord. But now I realize that, since you grew so bored, you might seek, aside for a lady to marry with, also for a squire. So you would train him, and would get some company.”
Bryce just sighs, as they are obviously spending most of their time misunderstand eachother. “The kindness part was..” he slowly starts to explain. “That I was hoping you could go outside of the Red Keep soon, and out to the countryside. Maybe on a hunting trip, or something like it, and that I would enjoy it, so I could make sure that you, as well as others who wanted to come along, were properly escorted. You said you wanted to do this, so I said I hoped I could arrange it.. I don’t know what else I should have said.” He leans back, watching her. “And in that case, I rather not drink any more wine. I don’t know what attempt you mentioned.. but I hoped that it would be dishonorable for you to share a few glasses of wine with a Ser as I. However, since you explained the reasons now, then I gladly accept them and refrain from more drinking. As for a squire, I should get one, yes. If there is ever a suitable squire for my position, who is not older than me because he lost the knight he was squired to in the war.” He tries to speak slowly, deliberately and thoughtfully now, once more, to try to end all these misunderstandings and rambling, and he seems to have calmed down a lot.
“Damned,” he says quickly. “Hoped it would -not- be dishonorable is what I meant.. sorry.”
Lanei nods slowly. “I see ֖ and understand now, my good ser. But, as I already explained to another knight which launched such a kind and fair invitation, I shall not leave the Red Keep, permission granted or not, while the prohibition to do so is not lifted, so that all my companions can do the same and without restrictions.” She throws the cushion on the couch and shrugs. “I think it is easy to understand, isn’t it?. It is a matter of… loyalty.”
“Well, surely you will find a good boy eager to squire for such a fine knight as you are” she continues, welcoming the change of topic. “And do not fear, I know what you meant, and I felt not insulted, if that is what you feared. To ride is fine. Besides, there are servants around to help with the hunting.”
“Yes.. well, my lady, I thank you for your company, despite the fact that you had to hear all this. I meant to try to sit idle and just talk about Dorne, perhaps, or something along those lines. Now.. ” he shakes his head and starts to rise. “They will have waited over an hour for me at the stables, I should go there. I am still glad you listened, and that you are not one of the ladies, or Sers, from around here.” Offering a brief bow, Bryce seems a bit embarrassed as he prepared to make his leave.
“It has been an… interesting afternoon, though, and you made an interesting guest, my lord of Caron” Lanei says, rising to her feet as well, and waving a hand to the doors. “I will accompany you to the doorway. I would to the stables, even, but I think that I will go to my apartments. I forgot to tell my cousin, Lady Jasmylla, that someone sent her regards to her. Hopefully we will meet again, and soon?.”
“Do so, my lady.. Do so,” Bryce says with a nod, and offers a deep bow, even if it isn’t very graceful. “I shall meet you again, as you say.” Those words are his last, as a stray crossbow bolt hits him the back from a bitter Dornishman.. Not! Just joking. He smiles as he finishes the bow, before taking a step back and then turns and walks out.
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