Blood of Dragons

The 'A Song of Ice and Fire' MUSH


The Man Who Bore the Sword
IC Date: Day 9 of Month 6, 158 AC.
RL Date: March 08, 2007.
Participants: Aidan Dayne, called the Knight of the Twilight, Doran Dondarrion, called Blackbolt, Elanna Baratheon, Harold Kenning and Jonn Lannister.
Locations: Red Keep: Eastern Outer Yard

Summary: After sparring with his fellow knights, Ser Aidan converses with Lady Elanna and Ser Doran before encountering a knight who has a quarrel with him.

The clatter of men-at-arms practicing rings through one of the small yards in this area of the castle, blunted steel blades clashing against one another, against shields, against armored men. Grunts and shouts of effort, the occasional curse and laugh—they’re all familiar sounds in the Red Keep. But this time it’s a number of the Dornish knights sparring with one another, with their bright robes and even brighter armor.

One pair of knights trade a flurry of blows with one another, catching most of them on their respective shields, with the occasional blow slipping past to be turned by a blade or avoided ... until one manages to catch the opponent dodging the wrong way, so that his blow thumps solidly into his chest.

A woman clad in pale gold sweeps from the north, accompanied by a gold and black clad guardsman. A swift zephyr dances about the yard, plucking at her hemlines and casting them about her legs in entangling folds. Her veil lifts in protest, sweeping entirely of her head and whipping across the yard…indeed, entirely across the knights fighting in the yard. Elanna Penrose cries aloud in protest as she watches the white silk dance on the breeze, elusively avoiding her casting fingers.

With a wince in his voice, the knight in lilac and white that was just hammered by his opponent’s blow raises his arms and calls out through his visored helm, “Enough, Ser Madyn! That’ll be the seventh good bruise you’ve gifted me with today. A holy number, which I’ll take for a sign.” The other knight, in robes of blue and white, laughs and makes some response, and then turns to see if some other Dornishman might be willing to try him.

Turning away from the field of contest, the knight with the falling star and sword of Starfall—now plain on his shield—moves to where a squire awaits beside a camp stool. “Here, Danyll, help me with this.” The shield and then the practice sword are handed to the lad, before the knight lifts up the helmet to reveal Ser Aidan Dayne’s face, gleaming with sweat. The knight and squire go about the process of removing his armor, which seems to involve a number of buckles and laces. For his part, he watches the knights at practice, his back to the woman’s cry which makes him slow to respond. The same cannot be said for the boy, though, who leaves Aidan with one arm lifted, the laces of his scale shirt only half undone, as he runs and leaps after the scarf. “Danyll!” Ser Aidan calls in annoyance, not yet registering the squire’s purpose.

“Oh no!” Elanna cries in protest, “No please, do not concern yourself!” She breaks away from her grey haired guardsman and moves to stand near the rather scarecrowed Aidan. She sighs and shakes her head.

“I told Malyse to use more pins, that it was a little windy today,” she turns her head to regard Aidan…and purses her lips, “To what purpose is this drill, Ser knight?”” to Doran.

Ducking and weaving among the sparring knights, the squire in green and gold seems intent on the scarf, and even laughs as a leap to try and catch it fails as a gust of wind sends it fluttering in a different direction—no doubt such sport is more exciting than undoing yet another buckle. He’s nimble and quick, and soon enough he catches it just as it’s about to tangle itself amidst the branches of one of the birches under the walls. A boyish shout of triumph ensues, and a waving of the scarf like some enemy’s captured banner, before he starts making his way back to the knight and the lady.

“Lady Elanna, good day to you,” Ser Aidan says, lowering his arm self-consciously as he bows his head. “That was your scarf? It was well-done of Danyll then to go after it, then.” That remark is more to himself than the lady, by the look in his face, but then his violet eyes focus on the lady and he offers a smile. “Purpose, my lady? We swear to defend the Seven, the poor, and the helpless south of the mountains just as your knights do north of them, Lady Elanna. We could hardly do so, were we too fat for our armor and too frail to lift a sword.”

“Then I shall be sure never to become helpless around you, Ser Aidan,” Elanna’s eyes twinkle as she remarks with amusement in her voice, “Lest there be no Westerosi knights to defend me and I fall to my foe.” She smiles at the young squire.

“Neatly done, young man,” Elanna declares, “Swift of foot and hand will bode you well, I should think.”

Doran’s eyes wince as he steps out from the guest tower, his gloved hand coming up to shield his face from the harsh rays of the sun. A soft sigh escapes the marcher knight as his hands drop down to the leather belt strapped about his waist, adjusting the scabbard that had become crooked during his descent down several flights of stairs. The sudden cry of the Knight of Twilight catches the Blackbolt’s attention, and his emerald gaze falls upon the Dornish knight and the companion who wrought havoc on him.

A sad smile is donned by the sworn shield of the Prince of Dragonstone, and his steady gait crosses the distance towards the man, and the lady he now has begun to converse with. “Good morning, Ser Aidan.” The half-Dornish knight replies, offering a half bow to the man whom earned his spurs, before turning his gaze to the Lady Elanna. “My lady.” He states softly, his body going even lower into a bow that eludes to practiced elegance. “That dress looks absolutely exquisite.” He adds gallantly, his tone dripping with true sincerity.

Danyll offers up the scarf with a bow, a shy smile on his lips. Aidan remarks, “As the lady says, cousin. And chivalrously done, as well. You must always act when there is a woman in need of your aid.” As Doran Dondarrion approaches and makes his greeting, he offers the man a nod of his head and a murmured, “Ser Doran,” before looking between the famous knight and Elanna.

“Here is a knight to defend you, Lady Elanna, from anyone who might mistreat you,” Aidan says after a moment’s pause, with a chuckle following it, before turning his eyes to Danyll and lifting his arm again. Sheepishly, the Toland boy gets back to the laces of the enameled armor.

Elanna regards the Dondarrion knight thoughtfully for a moment, before tilting her head in returned regard. Her voice is soft, little emotion in her tone, little expression on her pale features.

“Then, indeed, I am safe,” her declaration is airy, “Good day, Ser Doran. I hope your sister and mother are quite well? I had heard the Lady Loreza has arrived in the Red Keep.”

“A knight to defend you?” Doran questions after turning his gaze back to Aidan briefly, hoping his expression will give him the answer without words. Yet it seems the Dornish knight’s face does little to sate the Blackbolt’s curiosity, and his chartreuse eyes focus once again on the Lady Elanna. Yet when the lady makes mention of his relatives, the confusion melts away to reflect a sense of quiet contentment. “My lady mother’s arrival has brought a warmth to my heart that I have not felt since the day I won my spurs.” The knight replies, his sad smile transforming into one of his ever so rare true smiles. “Regarding Lady Carmella? I have not spoken to her in sometime. Her duties with the princess, and my duties to the prince, tend to keep our paths from crossing.”

“Why is it Ser Aidan, I have never the chance to train against you? I must say with the recent news of Prince Daeron not returning has saddened me.” Doran’s tone is soft, and indeed his eyes do mark the sadness he feels the moment he brings mention of it. “With the lack of the King on his throne, the tournament that I heard rumors of will most certainly be postponed. I had hoped to face you.”

Aidan lifts the scale armor off over his head and gives it over to Danyll, who does what he can to fold it and make it a neater pile, placing it atop of Aidan’s round shield. The Knight of the Twilight frees his dark hair from the queue he kept it in for fighting, giving the sweat-sodden mass of it a brief shake before he feels comfortable enough to respond apologetically, “I would advise patience, ser.” As the other Dornish knights continue to spar, the clamor of it sounding in the yard, Aidan is helped back into his outer robes by his squire, now divested of arms and armor. “No doubt there’ll be some tourney, sooner or later. Though whether we hostages will be allowed to participate…”

From there his gaze shifts to Elanna and he notes with a flash of amusement in his smile, “I had not heard of Lady Loreza’s arrival. I wonder what she will make of Princess Daena and her ladies-in-waiting tilting at the quintain.”

Of words of tourneys and king’s return, Elanna says naught. It is to Aidan’s latter words that she replies.

“Well, given her heritage, I should imagine Lady Loreza’s mind is a little broader than her compatriots in Westeros,” there is no censure in her tone, it would seem that Carmella Dondarrion is a favourite of the Penrose widow.

“So I should think there may well be some considerable pride beneath a veneer of disapproval,” a tilted smile is given the Dornish knight.

Harold arrives from the Southern Yard on the back of a sleek chestnut mare who advances with graceful purpose. His saddle bags are packed tight, and there is a bed roll lashed behind him. Bright eyes note the Lady Elanna and turn wary as they note the rest.

Doran’s brow furrows at the thought of his sister training against the quintain, obvious displeasure writ hard on his handsome face. The Blackbolt’s eyes turn towards the western yard, not really seeming to focus at anything in particular. “I saw my lady sister training in the yard the other day. It seems she is under the tutelage of one of the men Ser Carsten Kellington brought from Blackhaven.” Doran shakes his head, adding in a voice considerably softer than that used prior, “She has one of the most accomplished tournament knights as a brother, and she seeks training from a man who’s name never was credited with a tournament championship.” The knight shakes his head, his wild hair falling off his shoulders and framing his face as he does.

“My lady mother was there.” The knight continues, motioning now to the western yard with a gloved hand. “She was cheering her on, as she does me when I train. She holds a special place in her heart for my sister, it seems. I am certain my lady sister is counting her blessings it is my lady mother and not my lord father who is baring witness to my sister’s pursuit of Princess Daena’s interests. Especially since she winces before the impact of the lance.”

“Well, it seems to be as you say, Lady Elanna,” Aidan says after hearing Doran’s report, nodding. But then in a more chiding tone he adds, “Though it must be said, women taking up arms in Dorne is very nearly as unheard of as it must be north of the red mountains. Even Nymeria did not fight her battles, though the maesters say she did command some of them.” It’s a vaguely ... lecturing tone, though he smiles as he says it, no doubt thinking himself quite informative on Dornish customs.

The horseman approaching draws Aidan’s attention, but he says nothing. Instead he turns to his squire and says, “Here, take up the helm and various pieces of harness, cousin. I’ll follow along with the shield, shirt, and the rest.” The boy scrambles to do that, though not before offering Elanna pretty farewell.

Elanna’s gaze flickers deeply sapphirine with the words of the Dondarrion knight, and it is only the arrival of Harold Kenning that seems to stay her tongue. She looks upon the saddlebags and mounted knight with steady equanimity, and her brows are drawn together slightly as she regards the man.

“Good morn, Ser Harold,” her lips hold no smile, “You leave upon a journey?”

She turns her head back to Aidan, “The Lady Carmella does not intend to take up arms, Ser Aidan, at least..not the last I heard.” She pauses a moment, “She intends to strike pole upon target, not to lead armies, nor lay steel upon the flesh of another. There is long enough distance for that.” She rests dark blue eyes upon Doran briefly after nodding a farewell and smile upon the young squire, “Thank you, young man.”

Any response that the rider in orange and black livery might have given is derailed by Elanna’s address of the Dornish knight. Tension is evident as the man is studied more closely by a blue gray gaze, “Ser Aidan ... Dayne?”, comes the address, breaking several rules of etiquette, “We have not as yet met, but I believe you had the honor of meeting my cousin.” He leans forward in his saddle, “Arlan Kenning was his name.”

Elanna holds her tongue for the nonce. Her wiser in the ways of tension guardsman, steps forth merely a pace or two behind his young charge. His hand rests very lightly upon his blade. With a slow blink, she regards the interaction betwixt Kayce scion and Dornish hostage.

Doran offers a sad smile to Elanna as she comes to the defense of his sister, and he allows his head to nod in response to the woman’s words. “I love my sister.” The knight admits, his eyes locked on the widow of Ser Jerion Penrose, as if his statement was made in order to convince the lady. “I only wish that if she seeks instruction on an activity, that our lord father most certainly would consider folly, that she would at least come to me.” The knight allows a soft sigh to take him, reflecting the frustration he feels on the matter. “I have tilted against some of the greatest knights in Westeros, and I have prevailed. I am considerably smaller than most of these knights, so it is not that far fetched to assume my technique is near perfect.” The marcher knight’s tone seems to exude the confidence he feels in the saddle with lance in hand, though his words seems to suggest arrogance.

Doran turns his eyes on Harold as he reaches his gloved hand up to push back the hair that has fallen off his shoulders. “Well met, ser.” He states, canting his head respectfully to the man. “I am Ser Doran Dondarrion, I am not certain that I have had the pleasure of your name?”

Harold’s manner mirrors that of the Dornish knight, so the nod he gives to the man’s words is stiff and perfunctory, “Kind of you to say, Ser Dayne, but the end result is the same: Your star continues to shine while my cousin’s has set.”

He gives the briefest of nods in return to the greeting from the Blackbolt, his attentions elsewhere, and his manner lacking a certain customary civility.

“It is as you say, ser,” Ser Aidan responds, offering Harold Kenning a brief bow. “The gods—” He starts, stops, and then tries again. “It is as they will. I know it is little comfort for Ser Arlan’s family.”

And with that, Aidan gives Elanna and Doran a nod. “Good day to you, my lady, sers.” Aidan departs after a last glance to Harold, expression rather grim, before he continues on to disappear into the Dornish tower.

Elanna just gives Doran a long look, she blinks slowly, before turning her attention back to to Harold. She steps forward, even upon the forbidding frown of her guardsman, watching the Dornishman depart.

“I am sorry, Ser Harold,” her voice is very soft as she stands a pace back from the horse, looking up, “I did not know.” She pauses, uncertain what to speak of next apparently.

A frown is taken up by the Blackbolt of Blackhaven as Harold refuses to offer his name, his eyes narrowing to glittering slits as he tries hard to discern whether or not the man meant insult. The marcher knight glances towards Aidan as he takes his leave, offering him a customary nod before he says, “Farewell, Ser Aidan. It was an honor to converse with you again.”

Ser Doran offers a bow to the lady present, his hand sweeping out before him as he flexes his courtly graces. “Lady Elanna, your presence brings a smile to my heart. I hope you find the day as beautiful, as it has found you.” Doran’s speech bares resemblance to his Dornish heritage this time, most likely due to the presence of a Dornish knight and his accent moments before.

To Harold he does not speak at first, sizing the man up as if still attempting to discern if insult was intended. “Farewell, Ser Harold.” Doran states, not wishing to offend a man in the same way as he did him. “I am glad to have met you.” He adds, before beginning his strides towards Maegor’s Holdfast.

It is early, to be sure, but folk are stirring. Reyna Tyrell comes yawning out of the Guest Tower, looking hollow-eyed in the manner of one who has spent a sleepless night, but somehow lighter in step. She waves to the departing Aidan, and begins moving toward Elanna with a smile on her drawn face—then spots Doran.

“Ser Doran, a word, if you will?”

It is eyes of steely blue that mark the departure of the Dayne. Quietly, Harold says, “The gods he says. T’was a man who bore the sword. T’was a man who slew my cousin. It shall likely be a man that shall pay the blood price.” He turns at Doran’s words, though late, the chill taking time to thaw. As he sees the Blackbolt’s reaction his eyes widen in surprise, “What?” He glances at Elanna, and softly, “Is that man blind?”

Elanna replies softly to Harold’s words, “He is a stiff necked young man,” she remarks of Doran, before her gaze rests on Reyna, and back to the Dondarrion knight, “Like many of that age, they sometimes miss what occurs directly before them.” She shrugs, and steps back a pace, perhaps out of range of large hooves that can crush delicate toes. She pauses as she regards Reyna’s words.

Jonn Lannister stands off to the side, not too far away from the sparring Dornish, with a pair of tourney swords in hand. His young squire has just departed from the yard after an exacting lesson from his Lannister taskmaster. The young Lannister may be only an accomplished swordsman at best, but none can doubt his ability to teach the art to others.

He notes the others, and seems especially interested in the Lady Reyna’s arrival—or rather, her intimation for a word with Ser Doran.

Then—“Aren’t you forgetting something, boy?” he yells at the retreating squire, raising his hands to wave the tourney swords at the youth.

The steady and careful gait of the Blackbolt stops suddenly as he hears his name. He spins about, his scabbard slapping against his thigh as he does. “Lady Reyna?” Doran asks, his eyes falling upon the Tyrell’s form. “A thousand apologies, my lady, but could it wait? My prince will be finishing with breakfast, and on this day he has plans to distribute coins during alms. I must see if he has any need of me before I prepare the horses.” He states, gesturing with his hand to Maegor’s Holdfast, almost as if Reyna needed to know where Prince Baelor Targaryen keeps his residence.

“It cannot wait,” Reyna says firmly. “I have mislead you most grievously, and with ill intent. I cannot continue with the weight of it on my soul…”

Gradually, at her words, the Kenning’s gaze is warmed, and a tight smile even makes its’ appearance, “A stiff neck and hooded eyes do not make for a long life for a man who lives by the sword.” A deep sigh is his attempt to loose more tension that has coiled about his limbs, “I am sorry about that ...” He waves a gloved hand vaguely, yet meaningfully, “I had played out that meeting so many times in my head that when it finally came I was ...” He shakes his head, “Not myself.”

“S—se—ser?” the Lannister’s young squire inquires in a mumbling rush, clearly unnerved by his knight’s tone.

“The swords. Put. Them. Away.” A smiling Jonn Lannister says, taking some of the bite away from his voice, which is spoken with such clarity that one might assume the squire a half wit. He bequeaths the weaponry to the squire and with an arched golden eyebrow, moves his sweat-stained person closer the action.

Elanna’s voice is still soft as she replies to Harold, “It is no easy thing to conduct such a meeting.” She reaches out a moment..and pats his horses neck, perhaps as an alternative to something more scandalous for the Baratheon maid.

“I am sorry such a meeting ever had to take place,” her gaze was faintly saddened, before her attention was caught by the arrival of Jonn Lannister. Her lips thin faintly, and she greets him not yet…

Doran nods his head respectfully in response to the lady’s firmness on the matter, and he begins walking towards her. “You have not mislead me, my lady. I am on the proper path to Prince Baelor Targaryen, and as I awoke this morning that was the journey that I had set my mind to.” The half-Dornish knight offers one of his sad smiles, putting emphasis that his words are intended for mirth. “Although I am certain this qualifies as a delay.” He adds, ending his words with a bow that fits well with the knight’s insistent strict formality.

The Lannister notices this and, but subtly, turns his attentions upon the Baratheon… maid.

“Kellyn, is that you?” he asks, a laugh on the tip of his tongue. “No, Elanna. I must apologize, but you women all look the same to me.” (repose on account of Jonn being incoherent)

Harold shakes his head, “It is just another accounting that must be made. We all have debts to pay.” Harold seems unsurprised that this should cue the arrival of the Lannister, and he is greeted with a wary nod, which becomes more so by the man’s address of Elanna.

“No… no no. I mean… that afternoon in the Sept. When I lead you to believe that I would…” here Reyna’s confession, obviously heartfelt, seems to go awry. She bites her lip against a smile, and turns her face away demurely. “I lead you to believe I would welcome you to my bed, but it was all untrue.”

Her words are spoken, perhaps, a touch more loudly than necessary.

Elanna’s voice is politely distant as she addresses the Lannister scion, “Good morning, Ser Jonn,” she bows her head in greeting, her gaze thoughtful upon the man, “Yes…I’m certain you think that way. Fortunately…the rest of us can tell the difference.” She glances up at Harold.

“Safe journey, Ser Harold,” she sounds somewhat distracted now, “Perhaps we shall see you again upon your return.” And with that, the Penrose widow moves to the southern yard, with a glance toward Reyna…a pause in her step at the words she utters toward Doran. Her eyes close briefly.

“Looks like,” Black Jonn says, rather loudly and seemingly to no one in particular, “someone wants to take a swim this morning.”

“Give your lady friend my sincerest apologies, won’t you Ser?” he says then, addressing the Kenning knight directly. “I cannot apologize twice in a single morning. It would irrevocably tarnish my reputation.”

“As I recall, I did not accept your invitation.” Doran states, his eyes glancing suspiciously to the other knights and ladies that have deemed it necessary to walk or train in the eastern yard this day. “As such, an apology is not necessary.” The Blackbolt’s voice lowers considerably, his gaze moving away from the others that have graced the yard, and back to Reyna’s face. “I will commend you for bringing truth to replace lies.” He states, his brow furrowing considerably as he studies the woman’s face. “May I ask what I have done to receive such scorn from a Rowan widow, that she would seek to sully my honor and reputation with such deception?”

Harold watched Elanna depart with a curious expression, though his attentions are rapidly brought to the more immediate vicinity by Jonn’s words. He inclines his head, “I will certainly make your intents clear to the Lady Elanna, my lord.” He straightens in his saddle, and points to the men Jonn was training, “Any show promise?”

Reyna does not deign to lower her voice. “You may not have accepted, but by the Gods, you wished to,” she says, raising a brow as her mouth twitches again. “And what have you done to receive such scorn? That I would -sully- your hon… honor?”

She seems to hiccup, and steps back a pace from Doran to take several deep breaths as she glances over her shoulder at Jonn. “Ser Doran, do you recall what you said to me about my poor Colyn?” she asks then. “Quite apart from your apology, you forget that the time between your remark and your apology was a span of some hours, during which I had time to formulate a revenge…”

Jonn gives a low whistle between his teeth as he listens to the lady address one of his favored pastimes. “Be still, my heart,” he says to himself with a nasty little laugh.

He looks over his shoulder at his students, then back to Harold. “Better than me at their age,” he says with a shrug and a decidedly more amiable expression of mirth.

“Ah yes, I recall now. I believe I said a very unfair statement regarding your late husband, right after you eluded that I was not a real man, due to my horse bearing a name.” Doran’s face rapidly darkens at the woman’s words, his eyes not looking with love upon Lady Reyna’s face any longer. “It was bad form for me to say that which was spoken, and I would give you another apology if it would bring comfort.” A soft sigh escapes his chest, and the knight appears to take on a loathsome weight as his shoulders slouch in his posture. “Such conduct is unbecoming of a lady-in-waiting to Princess Daena Targaryen.” Doran says with an uneasy calmness, “Yet my comment regarding Ser Colyn Rowan was far from knightly behavior. I will take the attempt on my reputation as the Seven’s will, and bare you no ill-will.” The Blackbolt allows another extravagant bow to take him, showing proper courtesy to Lady Reyna as he prepares to depart. “Is there anything more that I can assist you with, my lady?”

Harold allows a smile at that, “And probably myself as well, my lord. Our interests were merely ... elsewhere.”

“You are hardly an arbiter of decorum, -Ser- Doran,” Reyna replies, sliding her gaze pointedly toward the Dornish Tower. “Some might accuse you of… but I am a Tyrell of Highgarden, and we do not do such things. Still, one does wonder what Prince Baelor would make of you—a betrothed man!—panting after a poor and lonely widow without defense. And in the Sept!”

She smiles sweetly then, and looks at the ring on her hand, something she has not worn before. “Do you see this ring?” she asks, holding it out to the morning sun. An emerald, inlaid with a rose worked in gold, winks in the light. “My brother placed it on my finger the day I wed, to remind me that I am and always will be a Tyrell. So pray, do not forget, you who are Kinslayer and Knight in one, that I -am- a Tyrell of Highgarden. And do not preach to me any longer about decorum until your actions suit your words.” Again, that sly glance at the Dornish, this time those sparring.

“My sister’s bedmaids were far more desirable than sweating and swordplay, as I recall it,” Jonn agrees. Then he frowns and juts his chin at Doran, “That’s a bit of a long-winded apology, wouldn’t you say? He could’ve said ‘Yes, m’lady. I understand completely and there is nothing to forgive. Mayhaps we still be friends?’”

As he hears the lady’s furious rebuttal, he amends: “Perhaps the friends bit was overdoing it.”

Harold turns now in his saddle to regard Doran and Reyna, “Understatement is not the way of that one.”

Creases appear in the brow of the Blackbolt, as Reyna invokes her family name in attempt to strike fear in the heart of the marcher knight. The words, however, seem to do little to unnerve Ser Doran. “As you will, my lady.” The knight replies to her, not missing the fact that the woman used the title he loathes to be reminded of. “By your leave, Lady Reyna. This kinslayer must perform his duties to the Prince of Dragonstone.” The knight’s last words are spoken in whisper, his eyes darkening further as he is reminded of the past that has haunted his dreams by night and thoughts by day. He offers a cant of his head, not willing to put the effort into another bow, at least not after hearing Reyna’s response. The knight spins on his heels, walking now with quicker strides to the Targaryen bastion of Maegor’s Holdfast.

“Ser Almer wishes a word, Blackbolt!” Reyna calls softly after him, lowering herself into a curtsy of respect. Only when he is gone does she turn and look at Jonn and Harold.

Harold asides softly, “Stirring the pot.”

But Black Jonn’s roaring laughter is quicker. It gives the Blackbolt a fine escort on his way out.

“Gods, Reyna. I had no idea you were so exquisite,” he says to the lady then, his eyes brighter than the finest meadow, his smile more brilliant than the sun. The sight of Doran Dondarrion fleeing often sends him into such a fine mood.

“I did tell you, Ser Jonn, that a daughter of Highgarden has many talents,” Reyna replies smugly, looking for a moment at the ring on her finger. “I had quite forgotten that for a time, I think, no matter how often I said it.”

Harold glances from Tyrell to Lannister, a bemused smile on his face. “Well, if you will both excuse me. I must go tend to my duties.”

“Fare well, Ser Harold,” the Lannister says with a brief inclination of his head. “Do be so good as to remind your lady friend of my sentiments, won’t you?” Then, without awaiting a reply: “You have my thanks.”

Turning to Reyna, “I would very much like to embrace you now.” He sighs dramatically, “But people would whisper.”

“And we mustn’t have that,” he amends, slyly.

“Alas, they would more than whisper, they would roar.” Reyna looks bitter at this, quite disregarding the sly aside. “It would seem that all of Kings Landing thinks me a… er, less virtuous woman than I should be, according to Almer. Who also said,” she adds, almost managing to look sly through her shame-faced speech, “that whores are quite loveable.”

Harold inclines his head once again and urges his mare forward at a steady clip.

“He has many opinions, does our mutual cousin,” Jonn says, wiping the sweat off his face with one long stroke of his hand. “None of them right in any sense, but we must humor him regardless.”

“Why ser, you’re sweating!” Reyna draws a handkerchief from her sleeve, rose-scented and pure white. “I had not thought it so warm this morning, but you seem almost ill.” And she holds the fanciful little hankie out to him.

“Someone has to teach the squires which end of the sword to hold, and since the other knights are too busy with princes and whores—” Jonn says, stopping mid-sentence to stare at the handkerchief with something akin to horror. “Put that away, woman. This Lannister won’t go home smelling of freshly plucked roses.”

Reyna does as she is bid. “Farewell, ser,” she says with a smile, warm, but not inviting. “I’m overdue at the Sept, at any rate. Teach them well!” And she turns to go, her step light as she makes for the not so distant Sept.

“Give the Maid my regards,” the Lannister says, wheeling about to scan the yard for his squire.