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It was at the end of the third month of the 164th year since Aegon’s Conquest that the Dornish embassy to the Iron Throne departed the Planky Town. The weather had been fair enough, despite the autumn season, and the captain of the ship carrying them to King’s Landing had plotted a cautious route that would protect them as much as may be from the autumn storms that sometimes roared up and down the narrow sea. Three weeks, they supposed, the journey would take if thigns went fairly; perhaps even two, though that was likely too much to hope for unless the Seven willed it. So a fortnight passed, and there was no sign of the ship or its escorts, and none thought much of it. Another week, and those at the Red Keep shrugged, and supposed a week more, perhaps two, would be no great concern—word was that the autumn storms were especially fierce.
But then another week passed, and another, and now ravens began to fly, wondering if the ships had truly left, asking vassal lords if their men had spied Dornish ships from their towers.
But as it happened, the Dornish beat the news of any raven’s wings. Coming in at a late hour, their ship was unheralded, and no one awaited them. Because of the darkness, none saw the banners on the galleys that came into the Blackwater until they were practically at the quay. Then some quick-thinking gold cloak officer sent word to the Red Keep, and prepared a hasty honor guard to escort the Dornishmen there. What passed through the dark streets was not the grand entrance of the embassy that Sunspear saw, but a somewhat bedraggled group of men and women, who showed signs of illness and privation. The tale slipped out along the way up the Muddy Hook: the journey had been beset by trouble almost from the outset, from a sprung mast as they reached the tip of the Broken Arm to a serious leak developing that required them to come to shore on the northern end of the isle off the Broken Arm for more than a week. It was during this time that they occasionally saw galleys pass back and forth, Lyseni ships, but not flying identifiable banners. Aware that the waters here were prey to the pirates who haunted the Stepstones, a guard was kept. As it happened, it was not necessary, for no one attack them… not, at least, until they had finally made their repairs, taken up fresh water, and set the oars to taking them out back on to their journey.
Perhaps the pirates had landed men in some cove to keep watch, because not an hour had passed when there was smoke rising from the island they were leaving behind… and it was only a handful of hours later that two ships appeared to their east as they began to bear away from the island’s western coast. These ships must have been stationed near the northern shore, awaiting the chance to pounce. Rather than turn tail, the Dornish ships determined to fight off the pursuers—in part for fear that there may be at least one more ship approaching from out to sea, if the trap was a well-laid one. They closed, and it’s said it was a desperate fight. The vessels, pirate ships, were crewed and manned by savage men experienced at such things, while the Dornishmen largely lacked such experience save for the few sea battles during the resistance of the Targaryen invasion and, for some old oarsmen, a recollection of the days when the Prince of Dorne led them in warring over control of the Stepstones. Yet the Dornish had the advantage: there were knights among their number, men bloodied and proven in the resistance and the rebellion.
Even so, it was a near thing as the escorting ship was partially overrun after the other Dornish vessel succeeded in ramming and opening a gash in the hull of the lead vessel. As they backed water to try and move to support the escort, the embassy ship ended up being grappled with the other pirate ship… and there the fighting was its bloodiest as the Dornish sailors and knights fought shoulder-to-shoulder, spears stabbing and swords hacking. They say it was when Lord Orlyn Jordayne leapt over the side deck and managed to knock over a pair of men with his mace and shield that the Dornish defenders were able to force their way over to breaking the will of the pirates. By the time it was all done, the pirate ship’s deck was awash in blood, and it was hard to keep footing. Survivors may have hidden among the dead, or below the deck… but at Ser Perrin’s command, tar was poured over its decks and set alight before the embassy vessel moved on to the aid of its escort.
Having seen what had happened, the pirates that nearly took control of the ship instead fled to their own vessel, cut away the ropes holding the ships fast, and manned oars to get away as swiftly as they could. All told, thirty oarsmen and sailors had been killed on the Dornish ships (including the escort’s captain and two knights who were members of the embassy’s guard), and twice that injured. Considering the damage to the escort ship, it was decided that they would journey deeper into the Sea of Dorne at first, in case the pirates licked their wounds and considered another try or received reinforcement, and once they felt secure they would send the escort to Ghost Hill or the Tor for repairs while carrying on alone.
The rest of the journey was marked by contrary winds that led even the knights to try their hands at rowing, to spell the exhausted oarsmen. Illness also ran through the ship, some simply seasick, others apparently from some of the ship’s stores spoiling. They were unable to make land at Greenstone, for the contrary winds, and when they came to the Straits of Tarth a howling storm from the south forced them to simply drive north rather than land there. So to add to all the troubles, those supplies began to run low. It was fortunate that the battered ship at last was able to make landfall on Massey’s Hook, though there was only a remote fishing village nearby to help them with repairs and supplies. Ser Perrin Blackmont, leader of the embassy, asked that the fishermen send someone to the nearest castle to send word to King’s Landing, and the fishermen said they would… though it seems, given the lack of news, no such thing actually happened.
Finally, after the harrowing journey, they came to King’s Landing. It was just as well no one was prepared for them, and that there was no great fanfare, and that it was the dark of night: they did not come in great state, and for the most part were grateful simply to have the opportunity to be shown to their apartments and be allowed to rest and recuperate.
Now they are here, it seems they are not quite here, not until they are officially received. When will that happen? No one knows, not when the king all but refuses to do anything but pray and fast, but perhaps Prince Viserys and the small council shall prevail on him to do at least this one duty…
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