It was a feast of welcome, and a feast filled with joy. Years ago, the hostages demanded by King Daeron departed for the Red Keep, and now free Dornishmen and women have returned to their native land. The shadow city and the Old Palace were lit with torches and lamps, music played, and wine flowed. Many were the lords and ladies from throughout the realm who were there to greet their kin and celebrate with them, from crippled Lord Gargalen to Lady Allyrion. Courtiers great and small were there as well, and with them came the talk of what to do next, what great challenges were before Dorne after it was ransacked by the Iron Throne and so many of its people laid waste. But Prince Marence avoided such talk, as best he could, seated at the high tables with most of the hostages; a few were still on the Boneway by choice, Ser Aidan Dayne and Valeria Blackmont and Ser Kay Yronwood among them, and one at least—Damarya Allyrion—was resting in confinement, poor creature.
The prince sat with his brothers, Prince Cadan and Prince Rhodry, to either side, and a tension could be seen there… but then, there always were tensions between the three. Later, Princess Ariana, who’s flourished into a young woman, appeared in the feasting hall and was greeted warmly by her father, Ser Quinlan, and her brother Marence, who sat her down beside him. The Gargalens, including the pregnant heiress Joleta, were sent a fine haunch of roast lamb from the prince’s table, and later Marence would join them to discuss the state of Salt Shore—much damaged in Daeron’s conquest and then the war of liberation. It’s said the lady wishes to see her marriage annulled, and that the prince has sworn to do what he can, including placing pressure upon King Baelor when he finally completes his pilgrimage of peace.
Witticisms and barbs were traded regarding the pious King Baelor, with Lady Caitrin Blackmont putting forward fine, sharp observations that amused Prince Rhodry, though not Prince Marence so very much. Largely, the Lord of Sunspear spoke with his brother Cadan, discussing the peace. Yet when heads turned at a red-haired young woman who was escorted into the hall by one of Ser Quinlan Qorgyle’s knights, a woman strikingly similar to Alyx the Witch until one looked more closely and noticed the exotic cast of her features, Marence paused and spoke uncertainly with her.
It was Rhodry who introduced her as Samara Sand, a bastard daughter of the notorious Ser Mavros Uller, who had been brought from across the narrow sea. Uller, who played a key role in the rebellion that saw Dorne free again, had made great gains of influence with Prince Marence and with younger men at court ... but Ser Quinlan, his old rival, opposes him at every turn. No great surprise, then, that he sent Prince Rhodry on an errand to retrieve this embarassment from Ser Mavros’s past. Yet Ser Mavros greeted his daughter and made no effort to dissemble, or scurry away with her; taking her by the arm, he remained at the feast for an hour more, introducing her to his acquaintances. Prince Marence seemed disquieted, and rather ill-pleased with his youngest brother.
Ser Galwell Dalt spent a good deal of time with Lady Caitrin, who invited him (and, later, Prince Rhodry) to enjoy the Planky Town, which her paramour Ser Laurent Dalt has been overseeing the repair of. But it seems Ser Galwell will have little time for such things, after Prince Marence made it plain he expected him to come back to Sunspear to resume a place at court; he emphasized that the rebuilding of Dorne would require men and women of skill and intelligence to help see it done. The Gargalens, the Allyrions, the Yronwoods, and more have much damage to repair, and Prince Marence and his court must find ways to assist them all, though the treasury is depleted. Will renewed trade through the Planky Town aid matters? That is the hope, at least, as many look northward, counting the days until Baelor arrives to conclude the peace with Sunspear.