The storm howling out from the Summer Sea, hammering at the walls of Sunspear, had broken without much harm, save the collapse of a hovel or six, and water-loged alleyways. Sunrise showed a clear, crisp sky, wrack upon the stony shore, and a handful of scattered merchant ships from Dorne and the Free Cities—some listing quite badly—that managed to survive the onslaught, avoiding being driven onto the rocks. And day brought something else: a tired raven from King’s Landing, a note about its leg.
It should have been glad tidings that came from distant King’s Landing, the sort of tidings that would lead to the septons ringing the bells of their septs in the shadow city, to the courtiers celebrating in the shaded courts, to the throwing of a feast. Had not everyone Prince Marence desired of King Baelor come to pass? Did Baelor not finalize the betrothal of his young cousin Prince Daeron to Marence’s daughter, Princess Mariah? Did Baelor not undo the lamentable, forced marriage of Joleta Gargalen from a knight of his brother’s court? Did Baelor not confirm, again and again, his great desire for peace?
But there were no bells, nor celebrations, nor feasts. The prince’s determination for peace was something that many in the court were ambivalent about, and even among the smallfolk the enthusiasim for it was lacking. But Prince Marence rules Dorne, and peace was his desire, and it seemed he had it. The Martells and Targaryens would seal the peace with a marriage when the two royal offspring were of age, and perhaps bring an end to decades of hostility. Most of the lords and ladies of Dorne could accept that, however grudgingly.
Except, of course, for those who couldn’t—and that, more than anything, was why the reception of King Baelor’s letter lacked any joy. Because, only a little earlier, at the crack of dawn, another raven had arrived before it. And that one told a very different tale indeed: blood and slaughter in the Boneway, after Dornish forces fell upon a large caravan carrying trade goods, and routed it, and went on to chase it into the Marches. Scores of men were killed, and it’s said a marcher village was looted and razed before the Dornish fell back with Dondarrion men-at-arms at their heels… only to be led, quite directly, into an ambush. More men died, nearly all of them marchers. This bloody action has been the worst in the Marches since old Lord Manwoody carried out his war from the mountains while much of the rest of Dorne knelt.
Who to blame? The rumor at court is that this was all the doing of Red Rhys of the Scourge, after many weeks of silence from the notorious outlaw and his band. But others think something worse: that it was Lady Yronwood, perhaps providing aid and men to the robber knight, perhaps simply sending her own vassals to do the dark deeds. Her hatred for the northerners and her disdain for Prince Marence have been well known—the problem of the Yronwoods has been the second greatest concern for the Prince, after peace, and it is why the heir to Wyl has been a guest for so long at court as the prince attempts to peel the Wyls away from the Yronwoods to isolate them. If Lord Wyl played apart in this latest atrocity, no one knows… but the silence on the matter may in itself be telling.
And so, the peace is threatend even as King Baelor fulfills the terms of the agreement, and the question on every lip at court is, “What shall Prince Marence do?”