The Dondarrion apartments seem cold and devoid of warmth. Militaristic tapestries line the walls, filled with knights accomplishing impossibilities. A suit of armor dominates the entrance way, forged with a black steel, it appears to stand a silent vigil. Swords hang from the walls, as well as a few broken lances, some seeming to be weapons that still would accomplish their chosen tasks. The largest wall in the household, however, is covered by a giant tapestry displaying proudly the forked purple lightning of House Dondarrion.
The Blackbolt is there in the foyer, his arm resting on the mantle as he stairs into the smoldering embers of last night’s fire. His reverie, however, is interrupted as an armed guard of the house makes his entrance known. “Ser Doran.” the gruff guard speaks, his face covered in heavy whiskers. “The Fowler has arrived.” The Blackbolt casts his eyes to the guard, allowing a weak smile to grace his features. “Send her in, Torben.” the marcher knight states, his tone soft but still demanding adherence. The young knight slowly rises to his full height, straightening as he prepares for the lady to be escorted in.
Rather than ruin her fingers, and her temperment, by practicing her embroidery Carmella has passed the time waiting for their guest to arrive by reading. It’s a pasttime far more favorited by the young noblewoman and there is less chance of the item in her lap being tossed towards the fireplace. But it is not a small book she reads, but rather a map that she’s unrolled, one of the many she had brought with her to King’s Landing. She’s been content to sit quietly, hair draped down like a curtain to hide her face as she traced her fingers over roads and rivers, committing them to memory.
But when the Dornish woman’s arrival is announced Carmella’s attention shifts from the map to the door as her fingers quickly roll the map back up. There’s a moment’s hesitation just before she gets to her feet as what to do with it, but quickly she slips it under her chair and rises to meet their guest. She offers her brother a brief smile as she walks over towards him, her hands hend behind her back as she turns to face the door.
“Welcome, my lady. Please, follow me. Ser Doran and lady Carmella are waiting for you” says the man, Tarben, as he returns back to the Hallway and, as expected, finds Lanei -and the Goldcloak who has been assigned to escort her today- waiting as they were told to do. Only one Goldcloak, instead the customary duo. Are things improving?. The dornish lady simply nods to Tarben and does as the old guard suggested, her eyes scanning quickly the rooms they go through. Not a lot to look at, though, for they are but an entrance hall and a corridor.
Despite she is dressed in her House’s attire, she wears no cloak this morning: it is really hot outside and it took her no more than a few minutes to arrive to the Guest Tower. However her hands are not free, for they keep a rectangular object bundled in blue silk. “Good afternoon, Ser Doran, lady Carmella” she says as soon as she arrives to what seems to be the family’s living room, and curtsies,. “And thank you for your invitation.” Her eyes don’t miss the tapestries, banner and weapons hanging from the walls, and the manly air of the room.
Doran offers the weak smile to Lanei, his right hand going behind his back as he bows with his usual heavy formality. “Good afternoon, my lady of Fowler.” the Blackbolt’s reply is thick with courtesy, and he gestures to the only thing that appears in the room with any form of comfort, the chairs. “I trust your morning has gone well?” the young knight turns to his sister, adding no more to allow for the younger Dondarrion to complete her greeting.
As Doran bows, Carmella curtsies, her fingers holding to the violet material of her skirt. “A pleasure, Lady Lanei,” she offers in turn, the small smile she had offered her brother blossoms with the Dornishwoman’s arrival. “We are pleased that you could join us,” Carmella continues, gaze briefly brushing over the guard that acts as Lanei’s shadow. Is she surprised that there is only one? It’s difficult to say, but she does make note of his presence. “I hope it was not too much trouble for you to come and pay us a visit?” The question’s tone and wording is gentle enough, but they are spoken as her eyes glance towards the guard, as if he might have prevented the hostage from the invitation.
“It was a quiet morning, aye. Hopefully yours was too?”. Formal words to display good manners… Yet, the foreign young lady feels somewhat tense, unfamiliar as she is with the customs and habits of the Seven Kingdoms; however, she wills herself to relax a little and to ease her mind. “The Sevens heard us, lady Carmella, when we met at the Royal Sept, for they granted us to meet together again, and sooner than expected.” She looks at Doran, “And they chose your brother to perform their will, for he was kind enough to invite me to visit with you.”
Doing her best to manage a smile, this comes upon her lips. “No problem, so far.” Noticing Carmella’s eyes looking past her, Lanei tilts her head. “Surely he will have a chance to speak with your… servant?, so that he won’t grow too bored, while I am here.” Looking down at her hands, she reaches out the bundle to the Dondarrion girl. “This is for you.”
“I regret that Ser Anders could be not be present this evening, for he will be hunting until well in the evening.” The Blackbolt still holds onto his smile, the smile that would be genuine if not for the pensive darkening in his eyes. The emerald eyes drop to the parcel, a curiosity gaining reign over the melancholy look of the formal Dondarrion knight. “The morning was filled with activity, I’m afraid. I am weary from riding and training.” Ser Doran responds in answer of the Dornish lady’s question.
The Blackbolt turns to Carmella almost in as an afterthought, his curiosity spawned from the package seeming to intensify into his next question, “Did Ser Amond come with you, Carmella? I sent him to Maegor’s Holdfast with instructions to stay at your side. I have not seen him since. I am certain that Tarben and he would enjoy keeping our faithful member of the City Watch company.”
Carmella’s smile falters at the mention of the Sept and for a moment or two she looks uncomfortable. “Yes,” she says, her voice matching her expression. “It seems as if the Seven are insisting that we have the opportunity that we talk further.” Her dark eyes rise to meet Lanei’s again, hoping that the other woman reads into the meaning of her words. The gift, however, is quite unexpected but Carmella is quick to collect herself and accept it graciously, even blushing a bit as the parcel is passed into her hands. “Lady Lanei, this was not necessary, I assure you. But thank you, you are quite kind.” Her fingers begin to open the bundle, now that all attention appears to be on her and whatever is in her hands.
But she does so without actively looking at the thing, for Doran’s questions draw her eyes to him. “He is waiting just outside the door, brother. Don’t fret, he has become a constant companion to me and has taken your orders quite seriously.” Much to Carmella’s dismay, it would seem. “I can invite him in, if you’d like. I simply thought that within the confines of the family’s apartments I would not require his services.” In other words, she needs some time apart from her newest ‘friend’.
“I am sorry too, for I look forward to get introduced to Ser Anders. Surely I shall meet him, in the future, if he stays around King’s Landing for some weeks” Lanei ventures, before sighing, “But don’t complain if you grew weary after exercise. I wish I were too. Alas, there is not as if I had a lot of things to do, and I am not used to such inactivity.” She shushes then, waiting for Carmella to answer her brother’s question; yet, her eyes look sidelong at Doran, which seems to be a bit grave. Perhaps is he tense too?.
As the Dondarrion lady is done, she jumps into the conversation again, now offering her a comforting and even supportive smile. “It is but a book, I am afraid. Not a big deal. Yet, since you look to be so interested to learn about Dorne, I thought you might like it. It tells of our legends and tales. Perhaps your lady mother told you some of them, when you were children.” Lanei keeps, still, her smile, but suddenly it grows wide. “I was about to offer you The loves of Queen Nymeria’, but then I realized that your septa would have torched the book—right after to have asked for my head on a pike.”
Doran shakes his head at Carmella, dismissing her notion of summoning Ser Amond. “His presence was requested to be there when I am not. Being I am here, he is not needed.” The Blackbolt gestures once again to the furniture that provides the only warmth in an otherwise militaristic barracks, his chartreuse eyes looking expectantly at the Fowler. “Please have a seat, Lady Lanei.”
Ser Doran Dondarrion moves to one of the pieces of furniture, a high backed chair that seems to welcome anyone who would sit upon it, there he stands and waits expectantly. “I thank you for the kindness you have shown my sister. Her happiness is a chief concern after being separated from her for so long.” The young knight offers a small smile to his younger sibling, waiting with chivalry and patience for the two females to locate their perch.
The Loves of Queen Nymeria? Carmella tries to hide her disappointment that *that* particular volume is not currently in her possession. But no doubt that Lanei is correct, her Septa would not approve. However, that does not diminish her delight in the book she has now found herself in possession of, as her smile makes that more than evident. “This is exceptional,” the Dondarrion girl breathes as she flips through a few pages, earlier disappointment eagerly changing to awe as her eyes skim over some of the words. “I really appreciate this, truly,” she continues, looking up at Lanei and smiling bright enough to illuminate the room. She looks to say more, but in her brother’s presence she dare not, so Carmella simply holds the smile as she moves to take a seat, hugging the book to her chest.
“It seems there has been no absence of kindness where Dondarrion and Fowler interests are concerned,” she says as she sweeps her skirts against her and sinks down into the chair. “Though it seems there is little of that to go around these days. I do hope, Lady Lanei, that you might think of us as a place of refuge, should you find need of it.” There’s a quick glance towards her brother before she continues. “Your arrival on these shores was, sadly, only a taste of what I imagine you’ll expect here, especially outside of the Keep, and I know that my door shall always be open to you and yours, should it be necessary.”
The Dondarrion’s guest do as she is bid and sits down, hands clasped together on her lap. Once more, though, she feels her back getting stiff, and takes a deep breath, yet barely noticeable. “You do not need to thank me for anything, ser. It was my pleasure to offer the lady the book” Lanei says, all formal again. And yet, at Carmella’s radiant smile, she cannot help but to smile, openly, looking pleased at the Dondarrion’s display of satisfaction.
Allowing herself to lean on the back of the chair, her smile falls just a little when Carmella starts to speak again. “I am in your brother’s debt, already, and now I see that I will be in yours as well”. Lanei inclines her head, “Thank you for the offer, lady Carmella, but let us hope that it won’t be necessary. Yet, I will remember your words, if need be. As for our arrival, and the welcome we got і let us forget and forgive it.”
The Blackbolt slowly sinks into the high-back chair he stood in front of, but only after both ladies have found their seat. The large chair seems to embrace the weight of Ser Doran, and he leans heavily on the back rest as he allows himself to get comfortable. In answer to the three sitting, a servant appears from one of the side rooms, carrying on a tray three ornate crystal glasses and a bottle of wine. To each guest he offers a goblet, and when they accept it he pours from the bottle marked with the Redwyne label.
“You owe me nothing, Lady Lanei.” Doran states as he accepts the glass from the server. His eyes focusing on the crystal as the red liquid slowly fills up his goblet. “I will beg your pardon if these accommodations are not what you are used to. In the Stormlands we are bred with little love of comfort, a keep is not a palace, it is a shield against those who seek harm. The Marcher Lords, such as my house, are very militant due to the raidings that occur on our lands.”
Carmella takes her glass in turn, though she’s still somewhat distracted by the book in her lap as her fingers almost continually brush over the cover. She murmurs her thanks to the server as the wine is poured and only then does she pay the drink more attention than the book, lest she spill it and ruin her new gift.
“I hope it need not come to that as well, Lady Lanei,” she says, looking over at their guest. As with the discussion in the Sept, this could lead down a path Carmella would rather not travel at the present time so she shifts the conversation slightly.
“Have you had the opprtunity to tour much or the Keep or the city, m’lady? I am still not aware of just what the hostages are and are not allowed to do while in the city.” Carmella sips from her wine, eyes remaining on Lanei.
“This is, certainly, a good wine” Lanei appreciates after the first sip, short as it was intended just to taste the crimson liquid. She nods to the servant, that pours more wine for her and, taking a new sip, the lady places the cup on the table. “This hall looks more than fine to me, my good ser. There is no reason to apology to me or to complain about.” The azure eyes wander, quietly, the room. “Not very different of others I have seen in Dorne. It is evident that only men dwell here, but still, I like the place. It recalls me of… well, of the men of my family and, although I had no chance to visit those seats and keeps of the Boneway, the dornish seats I mean, I am pretty sure that they would not be very different of those lying to the North of our borders.”
Much better to change the topic before to say something she would regret later, and thus Lanei welcomes Carmella’s question. “I have roamed around the Keep, certainly” she offers, “but nothing more and always… escorted. We were told that, for now, we are not allowed to visit the city, much less to go beyond the walls.” Her lips have been shut into a thin line now, and the dornish lady sips some wine. “But things might change.”
“I am still attempting to gain permission from the Iron Throne in regards to the ride, Lady Lanei. I just ask that patience be afforded until such times as the Targaryen’s deem it appropriate. I am told it’s your safety that is the concern, rather than trust.” Doran’s voice is soft and contemplative, but when he speaks he does not seem to be convinced at the Crown’s response to his inquiry.
The Blackbolt brings the wine to his lips, sipping it elegantly before resting the stem on the arm of his large chair. “There is a garden located at the top of the tower, perhaps my sister and you could enjoy a bit of fresh air before or after dinner? I must say I had planned on a lunch, but it appears I am not the only one hosting guests this evening. I did manage to procure a fine spread for our evening meal this morning when I went to market. I believe even now the cook is preparing it.”
“They are quite lovely,” Carmella quickly agrees when the rooftop garden is discussed. “And it provides you with an amazing view of the keep, city, and beyond. You might not be able to yet leave the walls of the keep, Lady Lanei, but the world really appears to open up when you’re up there. I would be delighted to show it to you if you’d like.” Carmella takes another sip of her wine and gives herself a chance to enjoy it before carrying on the conversation further. “I can show you where I’ve enjoyed riding in the past, though with so many back in King’s Landing even the wooded paths seem to see more than their share of riders these days, especially those who enjoy the hunt. Hopefully, you will be allowed those privledges as well.” Her smile is hopeful, trying to stave off the uncertainty she heard in her brother’s voice.
At Doran’s words, the dornish hostage heavies a deep sigh, looks down into the cup and shakes, slowly, her head. Despite she is like dying to go riding ֖not to mention to leave the safety’ of the Red Keep’s walls, the lady won’t go. She cannot go. Stubborn as she is і Lanei would name it strong-willed, though- the lady declines again his offer. “You should not insist, ser Doran” she starts saying, “unless you ask for all the hostages to be allowed to join the… outing, should they wish to leave as well.” Now she lifts her eyes to meet the Blackbolt’s. “It is all of us, or no one, I am afraid.”
But to visit those gardens the Dondarrion siblings speak of, is a very different thing. “I heard of them recently, and certainly I would not mind to visit them.” Lanei pauses and laughs softly. “Nay, that’s not true. I would love to visit them. I have good views from our apartments but, alas, there is no garden on the roof of our Tower. Then, lady Carmella, do you like riding? Perhaps do you hawk too?.”
Doran’s brow once again furrows at Lanei’s response, and a soft sigh escapes his chest as he lets the subject drop. His eyes dance over the dornish woman’s form, attempting hard to discern reason for her reluctance, or if it is simple stubbornness that would disregard his offer. “As you wish, my lady of Fowler.” Doran’s formality returns ten-fold in his voice, and he turns to look upon his younger sister.
“There has been a recent influx of nobility in the Landing. Ever since Sunspear has bent the knee, more representatives are arriving from houses large and small to protect their interests at court.” Doran’s voice is solemn, and he speaks as if he were including his own house. “I have seen brief encounters and gatherings, with familiar faces and strangers. Do we have any news to share?” The Blackbolt once again raises his glass, sipping in quiet elegance as he gazes at the two women present.
“It is only fair,” Carmella says quickly to her brother’s obvious distress over Lanei’s refusal of sorts. “As much as I would like to show Lady Lanei the trails I’ve grown fond of these last months I can understand her desire that all hostages have the same privledges. If she is given special accommodations, then such should be available to all.” Her words are delivered slowly, her eyes drifting from Doran to Lanei and then back to her brother again. “They are yet newly arrived and those in the city are still celebrating the conquest. Better that things are given a chance to settle down instead of possibly putting the lady in danger.”
“I was rather surprised when I first saw them,” Carmella says to Lanei, turning more towards their guest as the topic shifts back to the garden. “They are quiet beautiful, generally quiet, and when the weather is near-unbearable you can find cool breezes up there that are not found on the ground. And, as I had mentioned, the view is delightful.” She twists her glass in her hand, studying the ruby liquid through the crystal. It takes her eyes off of Lanei a moment in an attempt to hide a rising discomfort. “I enjoy riding a great deal, m’lady, for it provides a feeling of freedom not often found in everyday life. But hawking?” She shakes her head and bites on her bottom lip. “No. I cannot say that I would enjoy that at all.”
Lanei sighs, plainly, attempting to hide well her exasperation away her hosts’ eyes. By the Seven! Is it so hard to understand?. But, unlike her brother, Carmella seems to understand it perfectly and to the point. . “Since I have no clue of how was the city before the war, I could not say… But it is—it was the same in Dorne. Lords and Ladies visited the Court and would try to see which one Princess Malora, or Prince Marence after her, would favor. So, no wonder they do the same here. Besides, many of them will ask for a reward, I do suppose. But” she shrugs, helplessly, “I have no news to offer… except my arrival.”
Turning her attention back to the Blackbolt’s sister, the dornish lady’s eyes shine for a brief second, and then starts laughing softly. “That is, exactly, the reason. Long ago, when I was a child, I found out that, to ride a horse, and to climb up the mountains, alone, will grant me the freedom I thought I lacked, when I had my septa after my heels, to drag me back to my lessons. As for hawking… The hawk is in my family’s arms, naturally. How could I not like hawking.”
Tarben appears in the entrance of the living space, his left hand resting comfortably on his long sword. “Ser Doran.” the guardsman intones, his voice begging attention as his eyes take in the two seated ladies. “There is a hedge knight outside begging your audience.” Tarben’s voice is sullen, but it betrays a man who has ridden hard and swung a blade. “Someone besides Ser Amond of Oldtown.”
Doran’s eyes raise from the ladies he was observing in conversation, and his wine glass goes to his mouth to drain the remnants of what was left within the goblet. The marcher knight glances apologetically to the two ladies present as he rises, setting his wine glass down on the small end table beside his chair. “I am sorry, my ladies. Please continue this conversation, I will see what the meaning of this is, and return as soon as I am able.”
The Blackbolt of Blackhaven bows respectfully, first to the Lady Lanei, allowing his right hand to come behind his back as he does so. To his sister he gives a bow only half so formal, and he ends his courtesy with a sly wink. “Sweet sister, I hope you can keep our guest entertained in my absence?” the young Dondarrion knight doesn’t seem to await a response, as he hurries towards Tarben, and the mysterious caller who awaits outside.
Were she younger and not in the company of guests acting as hostess Carmella might have rolled her eyes at her brother’s jest. Indeed, she gives him an odd look, but refrains from the childish expression as she offers a brief nod. “Of course, she is in good hands, I assure you brother,” Carmella comments before taking a sip of her wine while her eyes watch her brother leave the apartments. When the cup leaves her mouth Carmella is smiling again, gaze back on Lanei. “Well, it seems as if we have some free time on our hands while awaiting my brother’s return and for the meal to be presented. Perhaps you would like to see those gardens now, Lady Lanei? We can take the wine with us and enjoy the view, for a short while anyway.” Carmella looks to where the server is quietly standing and she lifts her glass towards him, indicating she wishes it to be refilled. “And we can leave word with the household staff to come and find us when my good brother has returned from whatever currently occupies him as well as for when dinner is ready.”
Lanei is about to answer Carmella’s questions as Tarben enters the room and calls for Doran’s attention. It must be surely an important matter what made the guard disturb the ser, especially while he hosts a guest. “Please, do not worry for us, my lord of Dondarrion. I am certain that we will do fine, and that the lady” a short nod to his sister here, “will perform perfectly the hostess, no less fine than you did, or finer, even.” She inclines her head to him and yet remains seated, fervently wishing that ladies don’t leave their chairs either in the Seven Kingdoms, when lords take their leave. Since Carmella did not, she sighs mildly relieved, and forces herself to remove her eyes from the knight and his guard, and back to the young lady.
“I will be delighted to visit the gardens, aye, but the Goldcloak will come with us.” She smiles and ventures a wink, lowering her voice to whisper, “Do not worry. He will not disturb us.” Lanei takes a new sip and starts rising to her feet now.
The server offers to refill Lanei’s goblet after he has finished with Carmella’s and already the Dondarrion girl is on her feet. She leaves the book on the table, having no need to take it with her, though she does give it a parting glance. The Goldcloak in question is given the barest of glances with a nod, though Carmella doesn’t appear all that excited by the idea. “As I expected,” she says, forcing a smile. “And no doubt, with my brother’s absence will will enjoy the silent company of Ser Amond as well.” Not that Carmella needs to ask him to join them, he’ll follow wordlessly as he heeds Doran’s command over her own. “It almost makes me wish I were wed,” Carmella laments as she heads towards the door. “I’ve seen too many married ladies enjoying freedoms inappropriate for a maid to not envy them just a little.” The absense of a Septa constantly nearby is another benefit, though thankfully her Septa has declined to join them for dinner.
Before they get too far, however, Carmella stops and summons that same server so as to impart instructions to him. No doubt he had heard them talking, but Carmella wants to be certain her message is passed on when the time comes. The man bows deeply, assuring the Dondarrion lady that it will be done which leaves the two of them to their own devices for a couple of hours.
“I can lend you some books, if you wish, lady” Marcia’s daughter says, noticing Carmella’s eyes on the book. “Adequate books for a lady of your age and rank, that is”, as if fearing that her septa might be listening at her, and even looking around her. “As for Ser Amond, who knows, perhaps he will do a good mate for my Goldcloak, so that they can have a talk while we speak of other matters that, most likely, would bore them.”
The ladies leave the apartment then, quietly followed by the men. Lanei is already used to have the Goldcloaks escorting her every time she leaves the Hostages Tower but, going by her words, Carmella does not look happy to have this Ser Amond around her all the time. “As for to be wed…” she chuckles, softly, “They say that it is easier to deal with the strictest of the husbands than with the kindest of the fathers… or brothers, I suppose. May I ask if your hand has been promised to any good ser? Did you father arrange your betrothal?”.
And then they arrive to the gardens, only one floor up, and Lanei gasps at the beauty of the place.
Carmella allows Lanei a few minutes to take in the sights of the garden, both on the tower itself and the views past the stone parapets. She smiles a tiny amused smile as she watches the Dornishwoman admire the beauty of the place, remembering well her first impressions were not so different. Walking towards the edge of the tower, Carmella quietly sips at her wine and glances out over the city before turning back to watch her companion. Or rather, one of her current companions. Ser Amond and the Goldcloak set to watch Lanei are left near the garden’s doorway and once they are outside Carmella pays them little mind.
“I have not heard that said of husbands and fathers, but it seems to be an apt assessment, at least as far as I can tell. When I am married I will no doubt have a better understand if that is so.” She takes another drink from her goblet and muses over the question of her own betrothal or lack there of. “My father has not yet promised me to any lord, Lady Lanei. At least not to my knowledge and I would hope I would be told when such decisions were being made.” There a touch of hopefulness in her voice at that, as fruitless as that may be. “My eldest brother is already married and Doran is betrothed to a Lynderly girl. My elder sister is married to a Penrose but her twin, Ser Anders has not yet sought a betrothal, though I imagine that will be coming soon.”
“The view is, truly, breathtaking” the hostage says, “Due this tower’s position. Despite I cannot complain of my little balcony and what I see from that, open over the Blackwater’s Bay. But, the gardens…” Lanei turns to let her eyes rejoice the beauty of the flowers. “I missed this so terribly. Dorne’s gardens are famous, and no dornish lord would dwell in a place without a good garden if he can avoid it. “I must to thank you, lady, your kindness, bringing me here. I do wonder if hostages would be permitted to come here too. Some of the ladies would appreciate this place’s beauty no less than I do.”
She breathes deeply, enjoying the jasmine scent in the air. “I did not know you have more siblings, so far I had heard of you, and of Ser Anders… and that’s all. But I must to say that I know very little of your family. Do you have nephews, nieces?.”
“Would that you would allow me the chance to borrow books from your library, Lady Lanei and I would have no hesitation in inviting other hostages here to visit the gardens,” Carmella offers, smiling all the while. She seems to take honest pleasure in watch Lanei enjoying the flowers so, though the mention of Dornish gardens does surprise her somewhat. “All Dornish houses? Even those such as Hellholt and Vaith which are located in the middle of the desert? If such is true then their gardens must be more of a wonder than these that simply grow in soil hoisted up from below.” Carmella speaks in awed tones again, trying to image flowers growing in the desert.
Strolling over towards a bush filled with roses, Carmella leans over and inhales its natural perfume while a contended smile slips across her lips. “I am the youngest but for one, my younger sister Aliona. There are six of us in total. My brother, Ser Ryman, who is heir to Blackhaven has a son and a daughter while my sister Audrey who is kin through marriage to the Lady Elanna and will be Lady Penrose one day as three daughters of her own.” Carmella inhales the rose’s scent again and her eyes sink closed for a brief moment before she stands up straight again. “It is perhaps a silly wish, but I would like to be the lady of a House one day, like Audrey will. I’ve watched my mother run Blackhaven and I wish to do as she has done. Better to have some purpose than simply be a member of house with little authority. I’d feel like a daughter forever, I think.” Carmella turns and looks at Lanei fully. “But you, you’re to lead your House one day, is that correct?”
Carmella’s first words are met with a soft laugh. “Indeed, my lady. Even those dornish Keeps and Seats dwelling in the middle of the desert, are inhabited by men and woman and, at least in the South of the Marches, people need water to remain alive. And food. So, be sure that if there is a well, there will be a garden. Small or big, but garden after all.” And then, the Dondarrion’s next words cause the foreign lady to look at her for a good while. “Do you know, I am starting to think that you were born in the wrong side of the Boneway.”
A smile is offered as the dornish lady resumes her words, “Aye, I will become the Lady of Skyreach after my lady mother… if I can leave King’s Landing… But why to think so poor of you, lady Carmella? It is not a silly thought, but a good thing, to be a little ambitious. I hope that your parents will search for a good lord for you, hopefully the head of his own house. For many years, while it was unclear if my mother would become Skyreach’s heiress or not, I lit candles to the Maiden, asking her to grant me a good marriage, the higher the better, so that I would rule a house too.” Lanei pauses and smiles again. “As for the Fowlers… I have sister, Lyra. She’s younger than me, and is in Skyreach I guess. And two brothers. Franklyn was killed in Dorne—he was but thirteen” true sorrow reaches her features, although she manages to send away some gloomy thoughts piercing her mind, “And Darion, who is the secondborn. I am the older and, along to the Dornish laws, my mother’s heiress. Last I heard, Darion was like dying when he was brought up to Skyreach, so I am not sure is he still breathes or not.”
Carmella laughs a little and dips her head, lest her delight at Lanei’s comment on her birth be far too obvious. She’s worked for eight months hiding that particular ambition and while she likely does not need to around a DOrnish hostage, she still takes precautions. “Were things a little different, I might have been, but I am a Dondarrion daughter,” she says once she’s lifted her head again, revealing a more passive expresison. Wine helps as well and gives her something else to focus on, so she enjoys a long, but not obscene, drink from her glass.
“My mother has spoken of ladies of Dornish houses and it is not unknown north of your lands that women run Houses just as men do, but it still seems…” Carmella shakes her head at the thought of it, it seems so foreign to her. “My cousin, my mother’s niece, is the Lady of Yronwood,” she comments lightly. “I have often admired her, though I barely know her, but also been in awe that she’s able to command a House and that men allow it to be so. Such a thing is rare to unthinkable up here, I could not see our Houses adopting such a practice.” Does that speak ill of the women, suggesting they could not lead, or of the men, that they could not follow?
It is the mention of loss, however, that affects Carmella the greatest. A boy dead at thirteen seems to be a tragedy, no matter the side, and she sinks down onto the nearest bench, the sorrow of that thought saps her strength. “I am sorry for your loss, Lady Lanei. For that of Franklyn and for not knowing if your brother Darion lives yet or not. Are you not allowed communication with your family back at Skyreach then?”
“And an Yronwood’s daughter too?” Lanei grins. “My father is a Dalt of Lemonwood and, still, I am a Fowler. No one would call me Lanei Dalt. So…” She contemplates either if to tell Carmella more of her family or not and, in the end, the dornish lady decides that, after all, it is no secret. “My mother was not born Skyreach’s heiress, as yours wasn’t either expected to become the Lady Yronwood. But Lord Gerald’s lady bore no child to him, so he remained childless for many years: hence his sister, my lady mother, became Lady Fowler when he was killed in the war. I have another uncle; two of his children, my cousins, are in the Hostages Tower too. But, still, Marcia is the elder of the siblings, and she rules now our seat ֖ and well enough, it seems. But she has been always a formidable woman, as so many others in Dorne. I will be but a pale shadow of her.” She drops her eyes for a moment.
“Skyreach… and Kingsgrave have not yielded to King Daeron, still” Lanei states, her voice touched with both proud and concern at the same time, “They are under a siege, or they were. I have not heard of them for many weeks… months, even. So, I do not know. Surely they will turn their army to the North now, to make them yield. There are ravens… but after Hellholt’s falling… I became prisoner of Lord Tyrell, and I got no more ravens”
“So, if women can rule in Dorne as only men can do in the rest of the realm, the man might take the woman’s name and join her house?” Again, more foreign concepts for Carmella, who is suddenly realizing that her few books on Dorne did little to educate her, not as a real Dornish resident could do. She nurses her drink, eyes looking at her feet where they peek out from beneath her dress rather than at Lanei herself. “It seems that the bloodlines and orders of succession of most houses are quite interwoven and complicated at times,” she goes on to say as her mind tries to unravel the web that Lanei is offers of the Fowler’s own order. Slowly she rises and crosses over to Lanei, resting a hand lightly on the other woman’s arm, now forcing herself to look up rather than at the ground.
“I have not known you all that long Lady Lanei and could not guess on your aptitude for ruling your house whenever that day might come. But you have an opportunity here, in King’s Landing. Not under the most favorable conditions, truly, but there is still opportunity for you to learn of the rest of the realm. You might establish bonds here, bonds outside of Dorne that may prove helpful in the future when you are one day Lady Fowler.” Carmella smiles a little to encourage one from Lanei as well.
“Where is the problem there?” Skyreach’s heiress ask. She realizes that, for long, she has not sipped her wine and now does, even if to encourage herself to speak of these matters without to get depressed… more than she has been for months. “Firstborn will follow the Lord or Lady. It has worked for unnumbered years in the South, why not in the North?”. And she bloody hopes that things will continue the same, Conquest or not Conquest.
Carmella’s hand is welcome or, at least, it is not refused, and elicits a grin. Yet, the ghost of sadness is there, looming up on Lanei. “I do not know, even, if I will be given the chance to become Lady Fowler and, for now, I cannot help but wonder what kind of bonds would I be capable to establish. I have not forgotten this new… position I have been forced to accept. But be certain of this, lady Carmella: that I will do whatever to help my House and my lady mother.” She reaches out for the Dondarrion’s hand and squeezes it. “And be certain too that, if someday I become Lady Fowler, you would be one of my honoured guests, should you get the fancy to visit with me.”
Carmella shakes her head. “Things are different here. Were I born first, rather than any of my brothers, I still would have no chance of claiming Blackhaven as my own. Had my lady mother not given my father any sons, then Dondarrion would have passed to an uncle or male cousin. Were I married to a lesser house, as my sister had done, still would I leave Dondarrion behind, my husband would not assume a higher standing.” Carmella merely shrugs at this and does not sound saddened by this, it is simply the truth of her life and all of those in Westeros outside of Dorne. “Were Westeros as a whole conquered by an outside invasion as Dorne was, then perhaps lines of sucession might change, but just as your way has been done for countless years, so has ours.” Again, she simply states the truth of the matter.
Carmella gives Lanei’s hand a gentle squeeze in return before releasing it. “I would be pleased to visit you one day at Skyreach, Lady Lanei. It has always been a dream of mine to visit the southern land, though I fear that such a dream will be supported or denied by whoever is to become my lord husband. But should the opportunity present itself, I would welcome a visit to your home.”
“Unless you get a dornish lord as husband… and I have been told that there a few of them have been seen around the Red Keep’s yards these days” comes Lanei’s swift comment to Lady Carmella’s last words. “Fear not, I was teasing you.” And, still… “Well, as you wisely pointed out, things have worked this way in the North for many years. But we, in the South, would not like to be forced to embrace these customs. We have ours, and we love them we don’t kill lineages and bloodlines.”
“As for that visit ... let’s hope that, someday, we will be able to wander Skyreach’s courtyard, drinking a cup of wine like this one, and laughing at these… dark days and the daydreams and thoughts of two ladies. But now, I am afraid, I must take my leave. It is growing late, and I have been away the Tower for a good while. I do not wish people getting concerned.” Lanei drinks what remains of the wine and, looking around for a place to put the cup, puts it on the place were Carmella sat before.
Lanei’s initial comment. But just as quickly as it comes, so too does it leave as the Dondarrion girl remembers herself and the position she’s currently in. She turns and looks out over the city and slowly takes a drink from her glass, finishing the wine entirely. “Well,” she finally says after swallowing, “that is up to my father’s discretion.” But is that a touch of hope in her words? Perhaps.
But a bit of sadness follows as Lanei makes her apologies. “I will make apologies to my brother, but I understand that time is not entirely your own as well,” Carmella says, feeling comfortable enough again to turn and look at the other woman. “Unfortunately, neither is his and sometimes duties come before pleasure. Another time, perhaps. But dinner or no, I do appreciate having the chance to speak with you again and hope that we will see each other again soon.” Carmella watches Lanei set the glass down and follows suit, but while the Fowler woman is preparing to depart, Carmella decides to linger up in the gardens a little while longer, to think over a few things that have arisen in conversation.
Marcia’s daughter stops on time the chuckle ֖even the ironical smirk- that threatens to reach her lips. Indeed, Doran’s sister one of them, anyway- is young and, surely, innocent. Pity, she would have liked to meet her in other circumstances… more propitious for her. She nods, “It is perfectly understandable, lady Carmella. Men need to attend their duties, as we need too. Yes,” Lanei nods once more, “Surely we will meet again, and hopefully soon. Of course, you are invited to visit out the Fowler apartments, despite if you dared to do so, I would suggest you to send me word of your arrival, so I would be waiting for you down.”
She curtsies. “Have a good evening, lady. And, once again, my thanks for such a lovely invitation.” Waving a hand to the Goldcloak, she steps out the garden and takes her leave, with the smile, still, gracing her lips.