(collab made with above)The Spine
The fighting had been intense, the brief reprieve at the castle known as the Boneyard had been enough to recouperate, and give everyone a chance to drink, before marching along the very spine itself. The ridge was narrow, and difficult, and Garlan had taken the vanguard of the troop, several thousand men who had been rested from the climb, the view incredible. After a night's rest, they had mostly left in the early morning, with Garlan having a strict discipline that ran through his ranks, the sight of Order of the Green Hand men armouring up and sharpening their blades, wiping dirt from their plate, and preparing. Their plate, mostly silver, with green, a yellow gold and white, with the Red Hand prominent in their battle dress, was ornate and functional, some having green and gold feathers, some of the younger ones having flowers woven in. It looked strange, yet this was not just an aesthetic- the men here were hardened by war, were fit and healthy, and seemed to have an ethos driven by their commander. They did not scream of wealth, they seemed to suggest that of an order that was a fighting unit, of warriors proven.
And they had marched out, with Garlan keeping a healthy contingent of them armed with heater shields, polearms, archers and crossbowmen, and local mercenaries to bolster, light infantry to fill the gaps. Dickon Tarly's huntsmen filled that light infantry role, almost moving ahead and in the areas to provide arrows where the line would otherwise be comprimised, whilst the local mercenaries were kept as reserve and supportive troops, almost all of them being spears.
Even this high in the pass and this early in the morning, the presence of sunlight changed the tempurature rapidly, as the castle came into sight. The red-walled structure was small, but plucky, as Garlan watched on, himself on foot, the narrow ridge covered in men fighting.
"Bugger. Those archers are suppressing us. And I think they're trying to hit us with attrition. They will take as many of our men as they can, before they leave. We can't keep pushing in." Garlan said, aware that Ned was listening, looking on, his position behind the front giving him the chance to look on, arrows whistling past to and fro.
"We're getting pounded out there. But....there is another route. From the valley floor, they have a track that goes into the castle. The main entrance....we are merely following the ridgeline and the trails there, and they know we're coming. We can circle our forces onto that track, and I anticipate they'll think we don't have the courage to come off the ridge. Ned, take the men of my right flank and ready an assault. I'll withdraw from the centre so you can have supplementary soldiers to join, the lighter so they they are mobile. Sound the horn for the griffons to take out the archers on that wall when you're in position." Garlan said, commanding in his voice and attitude, as he gently adjusted his helm, looking ahead at the carnage that was going on, the noise of arrows flying, shield raised. Soldiers in armour clashed with the Vulture soldiers, their armour taking up a lot of the fire that came their way, but the casualties were mounting, it was a real blood and guts battle, and there was no denying that. The dawn was breaking further and further, and Garlan wanted this castle secured by the mid-day.
Ned Dayne nodded, smiling as arrows whistled around them, "As you say my lord." The young Dornishman reveled in the dangerous task and he sounded the attack, the men rallying around his shining star sword and marching on the castle with renewed vigor. The native Dornishmen fought harder behind the Sword of the Morning, screaming war cries and flashing swords as they rushed headlong at the castle, heedless of the danger. The garrison had gotten used to a slow meticulous advance and did not anticipate the beserker charge. Dickon Tarly ran next to Ned, stringing his bow and firing with the Tarly huntsmen, turning the defenders into pincushions as Red Ronald attacked from the sky. War horns blared in the air, men crying out Starfall or Horn Hill as they attacked. The volume of fire lessened greatly and Ned's vanguard reached the wall with light casaulties.
The centre began to gently withdraw from the thick of it as Garlan fed the order downline to his captains, the pinnacle of the line, that of the Order's finest beginning to slowly hold their ground and let the rest advance, the line pushing forwards as they switched back to arrows, pelting the runners and unarmoured Vultures with whatever they could, before advancing again, in formation, shields raised and arrows flinging in. The sight of scorpions were occaisonally tearing through the group, and Garlan had told the Griffons to prioritise them, picking them away at most, but not wanting to risk the riders too far to lose them. This was not a do or die battle, this was a campaign. Campaigns were won, not lost, on how many men you had left at the end and how many they did. They had to achieve a high enough ratio of killed men to force them to back down, that would win that campaign, not a bloody shove. It was not what perhaps Gendry would have done, but taking the Spine was easy, but this castle, well, it was one of an extended archapelego that would invite only death and blood to turn to the King's rule again.
The battle was beginning to turn a little, as the men moved around to the right, the noise of horns and war cries, the center beginning to finally push in. Garlan was even in the thick of it, moving forward with one shield raised, his sword readied as he slashed through a militiaman, kicking him off the sword, the old man still as capable as ever, as he yelled.
"Forwards!" The yell carried across the battleground, as Garlan continued leading the vanguard, making their way around wounded and dead soliders from both sides alike, the flank allowing the fire to be diverted. Slowly but surely, the ram was going downhill, the momentum bringing it closer to the gate at the side of the castle, soldiers using it for cover as they sent arrows into the battlements. Garlan let the men encircle, and already had his orders to take the wall at the right, and towards the front, to clear the archers before throwing their ropes up.
The Vultures, sensing the crumbling of their line, tried a desperate tactic. The archers and spearmen at the front of the castle rained stones and boiling oil on Ned's assault force but on the flank that Garlan's men attacked, they did the unexpected. While the archers fired arrows down on the Reachmen's heads, a large force of men assembled on the walls, mostly spearmen, who jumped down from the fortifications and charged the Reachmen. One Vulture-caped raider with a greatsword of black steel saw Garlan across the field and made his way for the commander, intent on killing the famed warrior and breaking the flanking assault.
Garlan watched on, as they lept down, charging forward.
"Hold!" He yelled, hoping the polearms and the rest of the men would fix in place, before they threw themselves climbing onto the wall, the spears taking out a few Knights and carving their way through. One came straight for Garlan, as he turned, bashing his shield against his sword, watching the raider charge through and come for the commander.
"Come on then!" He didn't seem to even hold his own rage back, letting it control him and steer him, as he approached him closely, letting him charge forward. Taking his first slash with his shield, he pushed back, swinging hard and clashing with his longsword, the black steel clanking loudly, some strange blade this must have been, but Garlan did not let it throw him off. He looked at him, taking him in squarely, the mass of soldiers clashing with the other spears, as Garlan stared coldly at him. Moving forward, he swung out, knowing he was unarmoured, and well, was only reliant on his agility to keep him going. He would tire, and Garlan knew that was a risk he could afford only for himself.
The man barely avoided the blow, Garlan's steel cutting his side as he turned and swept a wild two-handed swing at the Green Hand knight. The man was younger than Garlan, faster and more agile. He handled the greatsword well, with finesse and strength, but he was not as skilled and slowly bled from the cut, weakening gradually. They traded blows, each knight parrying and slashing each other in a rapid clash and clang of steel, but it became clear that in a fight of attrition, Garlan would cut him down. It was only a matter of time. Around them, the Vulture counter-attack had stalled against the greater-equipped and better disciplined line of the Green Hand knights. It soon became a savage brawl as each side squabbled over inches of ground, arrows raining down all around them. But if the Vultures didn't break through soon, they'd fall. Garlan's foe knew all of this and cast caution to the wind. He feinted to the side and jumped at the other knight, endeavoring to drive him to the ground and stab a dagger through his visor.
Garlan didn't even have the chance to raise his shield or sword in defense, as he knew he had to take the hit, or at least, move so he could respond. He crumpled down onto the ground, barely missing the blade as he kneeled above the raider, swearing loudly as he punched him with his steel-gauntleted fist in the side of the head. A few teeth smashed out, blood pissing away as he gently cleared him in the throat again with another punch, keeping him down, the sword suppressed as he hit him a third time, knocking him out. Spitting hard into his visor, Garlan stood, taking a deep breather, looking on at the situation, as he raised his shield again, the pelting of a few arrows filling it, as a Green Hand knight quickly charged forward in front, into another raider.
"Hold the fucking counter, push them back!" Garlan yelled at the top of his voice, keeping still close to the front, but now a little behind, as he saw the other attack on the side begin to edge in, and take the advantage.
With their commander fallen, the Vulture counter-attack faltered. Those in front continued fighting tooth and nail, but many more turned and ran for the safety of the walls. There was a roar of triumph as Ned was the first royalist to leap from the ladders and onto the walls of the castle, slashing through the archers like a sword through wheat. The griffins had laid the scorpions low and men now flowed onto the walls, clashing with the wall defenders. The Vultures resisting Garlan faltered and withdrew, running back to the safety of their keep to make one last stand, many of their number left wounded or captured in royalist hands.
Garlan pressed the advantage, the hardened commander not faltering in this fight, knowing that it had been blood and guts, and the presence of him had kept the men fighting hard, pushing on through to the walls, and the sight of the flank at the right was clear. They were not stopping, they were not giving in, and Garlan knew that they had to keep driving home the advantage. Once the castle was secured, they could think about resupply of water, food, and uttilizing the materiel that had been left, that much Garlan knew. For now though, they had to keep advancing, and men were closing in.
The archers kept firing on the Reachmen, covering the retreat of their fellows as the Green Hand forces came up with the ram and the ladders. The right flank was buckling quickly, many men in the castle digging in while their more cowardly cohorts fled up the mountain towards the next castle up the path. The weaker right flank gate was crumbling under the heavy rose-headed ram and the Reachmen soon mounted the walls and fought alongside their comrades led by Ned Dayne. One last push and the gates would fall with the castle soon after.
There were casualties among the lighter soldiers from the arrows, the armoured troops holding out better, less so against Bodkins, their shields held high as they tried to take it as best as they could, but the arrows had thinned through a small number of soldiers, though the Reachman and Stormlander force was pushing through, and getting onto the front. Even Garlan found himself on the right now, followeed by his guards, the noise of the ram slamming through the wood of the gate and more yelling ensuing, the walls dripping with blood and the sight of soldiers anywhere he looked reminding him this was a battleground and a half. But he could already see the retreat, up the ridge. It was there that Garlan made his decision, as he halted, taking in the situation. Already relaying to one of the runners that had come back from earlier, he sent down another command. The men that had breached the right did not rush the breach, rather, they were ordered away, and headed up the ridge again, on the far side. Garlan wanted them to intercept the runners, and completely seal off the castle, with his force moving into the breach that the flankers had made. Ned and his forward group were sweeping up the walls, as Garlan and his men moved into the castle, a significant number no less, and began to push through whatever was in their way, the encirclement beginning to pincer the castle in, as he took stock for one second to look at the damage.
His orders were swiftly relayed and a force of men detached themselves to intercept the retreating men, only a score or two escaping the encirclement as the royalists hacked the runners to pieces. Soon the castle was completely encircled and blockaded. It was an old fort and in disrepair, and the men were in disarray. Royalists swarmed over the walls and charged through the breach, cutting a bloody path through the defenders. With nowhere to run and enemies all around something curious happened. A great gout of dust flew into the air as something detonated below the castle foundations. The royalists knew that the secret tunnels led into this castle as well and doubtless they blew the tunnels to deny a superior route to the royalists. But this cut off their escape further and doomed the garrison. The master-at-arms died on Ned Dayne's blade and after he fell the castle was lost. The Vultures threw down their weapons and knelt before Garlan, Ned, and Dickon, awaiting judgement.
The fight had ended rapidly, and despite the fact that the caverns that Garlan had been briefed on had been destroyed, the fight had culminated and quickly carved it's way through the castle. Much of it's supplies suprisingly hadn't been torched, what was left was ample and would give a firm basis to help recover the momentum lost at the castle, with the remainder of the men rounded up.
Wiping the blood from his visor, he opened it up, barely a dozen vultures left that had survived, the rest either escaped, dead or in the process of doing both. The square of the fort was clammouring in soldiers, as Garlan headed towards the centre, towards the remainder. He didn't like what he had to do, or say, as he turned to Dickon, and the Huntsmen by his side.
"Kill them. Make it fast....we can't feed them or give them any of our water, so we'll only stop it becoming prolongued." Garlan said, then looking across at the rest of his men, then at the captives, looking on coldly.
"Good fight. Normal circumstances, you'd survive. But I'm afraid you picked the wrong place to stage an insergency." With it, a few of the Huntsmen came forth, drawing swords and knives, the men tied up on the floor and awaiting only their fate. Most were silent, as they simply slitting their throats, keeping to Garlan's word, as one yelled out.
"Pray stay your blade, my lord. I have information to offer if you give my life. I can help you take this mountain."
Garlan listened, the others had been quiet, defiant in accepting they were going to die, as they could not talk any more to give anything away, they were smart enough to understand that and driven enough by something, it seemed.
"What do you know?" Garlan replied, walking over to the man, kneeling by his side. He took his jaw, looking straight at him. For one second, the war that had been just fought for this castle didn't die in his eyes. He seemed utterly in his rage, utterly telling right there, right then.
"If what you tell me is a lie, I won't let you have a quick death. It'll be slow, convoluted, and administered one limb at a time to your family."
The man was dark of eye and hair, his skin tanned by the sun and by blood. He was young, of an age with Ellion Tyrell and a certain rougish handsomeness was found in his sharp angular features. The man smirked in defiance and impetousness, "I am Ser Mors Dryland. I have been part of the Vultures for many years and I have intimate knowledge of the defenses of each of the way castles and I know the commanders personally. I can help you negotiate their surrenders or help facilitate your attacks. You could save many lives, as long as you spare mine and that of the other great warriors and highborn in our number. Do we have an accord?"
Garlan listened carefully, hearing this insight, as the others stopped. Two men had been killed out of the dozen, as Garlan stopped them with a hand gesture, to stop continuing with what they were going through with.
"If what you say is true, then hear this. Gendry Baratheon wants to kill every single last one of the Vultures, frankly. Regularly, that would mean I should slit your throat too. But I understand how war works. I want the same, and if you tell us where their defenses, where their castles, and who to hunt, I will try and spare your soldiers. But if you ever meet Gendry, you'll be very dead. He has a warhammer and a scary fucking amount of rage. This is a pact between me and you. After this, you get to run away and live." Garlan said, as he knew mercy was sometimes relented upon, but strategically, this would be more useful than a wasted chance, as he walked around, cutting his rope, then looking to the other huntsmen.
"They've seen enough. Give them water, and keep them in the line. Ned, I'd like you find out what they know. Dickon, I want you to restock your arrows, find broadheads over bodkins. Grab whatever supplies you need from here, lads. We move in three hours."
The men roared in approval, the griffins alighting on the castle walls as men cheered on Garlan, Ronald, Dickon, and Ned. The dragon banner was soon set flying over the castle, next to the Tyrell Rose, the Baratheon Stag, and the other high houses. Another cheer went up from the men as Gendry and other officers walked into the castle, the Baratheon smiling as he looked around, nodding in pleasure. Ned had already left to see to the prisoners and Gendry clapped Garlan on the back, moving to grasp their fists together.
Gendry said, "Nice work, Garlan. You took this castle even faster than I thought. And with minimum casaulties. Excellent. We haven't heard from Mirren's contingent yet but I expect they're making progress as well. Perhaps we'll meet them at the next castle." Gendry turned to some of his own men, "Set about manning this castle! I want it strengthed and shored up. I don't intend to lose it to the damn vultures again." Gendry turned back, "Two more waycastles, some minor forts, and the main fortress at the summit. We already have two taken, we're making good progress. This time, I'll join you Garlan, you need some more men to fill in for those lost. A few companies of my finest and my hammer at your side. We can let the rest of our men start regrouping here and use this as our new forward base. How are you holding up?"
Garlan nodded, watching as Gendry took the command of the castle, as he chuckled. He had served well, he still had it in him, he thought to himself, as he wiped some of the blood off him.
"Thanks. I wouldn't call it minimial but we'll get what we can in this campaign. We can recover. As for me....a few knocks, bruises, a bit of plate that needs changing. But nothing an old man can't keep fighting through. We need to keep the momentum, Gendry. While we have the supply. I'm glad you're coming with. I was about to say, we were missing seven foot of scary bastard to kill them with."
Gendry laughed, "The two of us together? That castle is doomed. Taking this mountain will secure our hold on the region. Let us luncheon here. We can rest, relax, rearm and set forth again. Take that other castle in time for dinner. Get some rest Garlan, we move soon."
Willas only heard the door open and the short but fierce Stark walk in, her presence undettered. The Master of Whispers was not a person you exactly made jokes about or was blunt to. She was harsh, hard and did not mess around. Willas let her do her own thing, he knew she would let him do the same. Yet this was important, whatever it was, as he paid attention to her.
"Oldflowers? By the Seven..." Willas said, putting his chair back, sighing as he adjusted his bad leg, sitting up and looking back at Arya.
"Like a bloody ghost story, they are. Merlin wrote to me, there's been disappearances. Strange recurrences too. I've had my eye on it, but never thought any legitimacy of it. My vassals are loyal, they did not fail to rally the call when I asked them to fight. The peasantry is happy. Or at least, the ones who don't know about the fact that we haven't stopped this wicked hell from affecting us." The Tyrell Lord added, shaking his head.
"When I know you're here, you mean something. Whatever you're wanting me to sanction, you've probably already sent the men. You're certainly a thinker. But you're asking me to marry one of their children to my family. I am merciful, yes. But we Tyrells are like flowers, alone we may survive, but together we make a flowerbed. You pull the weeds out and don't let them survive. And as we serve the crown, we once served them. The master's chain of a fellow Reachman is not one my proud house shall endure in any century ever again."
Arya arched an eyebrow, leaning on Willas' desk,"I understand your concerns, Willas. Your family is envied by many with better blood ties to the old regime than yours. And you are right to be wary of bowing to the Green Hand once more. But the Throne feels that it would be best to tie their bloodline to yours. If one of your heirs placed a Garderner in the family, you'd secure your hold on the Reach. None of your rivals could rightfully contest you and any potential supporters of the Gardeners would be mollified. The only other options are to make them bend the knee, exile them, or exterminate them."
"This is all academic of course until we actually defeat them. We can decide their fate once we win. And to do that, we need to work together. Your family helped ours, I think it's time to bring the Tyrells into the fold like every other House."
"Send word to Highgarden. I'll have Knight's Inquisitor join with their forces to take one of the rebel holds. And your daughter seems to be natural at court. She could help us weed out the sympathizers here. If we succeed, I think the crown would want to offer Tom Lannister's hand to Alerie. With that marriage we can make us all into one Great House. Thoughts?"
Willas sighed, shaking his head.
"Your other options actually sound easier. Ellion probably wouldn't enjoy me forcing marriage on him, Merlin is married to a Reachwoman, Alerie has her own plans, and Alys...I couldn't do that to my youngest. What you say is academic, just as you say....it's actually more preposterous than real that they exist, and besides, many men can claim linage directly from Garth Greenhand. Our family do, as does half the Reach."
"Whatever they are, I agree with you, Arya. Send that Knight Inquisitor. Let him get to work. Alerie is good at her games, but I don't want to see her come to harm, as much as she may not want it. Once we have them found, I will decide. But I do not expect this will be easy. Many things I am kind, careful, and chivalrous about, or so they tell me. But the Gardeners will bring the Kingdoms to their knees, if they found popular support and mobilized the Reach's armies, they would not stop at destroying the other Kingdoms, or burning it to the ground in retribution even if they couldn't. As for Tom Lannister...well, that would be in the favour of House Lannister."
Arya pursed her lips, considering, "We will decide later, when our position becomes clear. I shall send word to my sister, have her best men ride to Highgarden and join with yours. There are many old castles that could be rebel holds, but my spies have identified the most likely site. As for these Gardeners... well our reports suggest they possess certain.. gifts that have legitimized their blood claim. But these reports are unsubstantiated as of yet. But they still represent a danger. Remember that the Durrandons, the Fishers, and the Reynes have also claimed to return. With the Vulture King, Mountain King, and Pirate King all rising against us; and a possible King Beyond the Wall and Lord Pyke gathering their forces, we can ill afford greater dissension. A coalition of all these forces could be a serious threat. Especially if reports of other pretenders rising are true. It is imperative we stand together as always and bring them all to heel."
Arya smiled mysteriously, "But we will win, of that I have little doubt. After all, we have dragons. And magic. But as for Tom. It would be in your favor as well. The Lannisters are almost as rich as you, definitely as prestigous and powerful. Julianna is the future queen. If your daughter were to become her sister-in-law, you would secure House Tyrell's position for a generation. And whenever Tom and Alerie produce a daughter... well we may have a future queen with Tyrell blood."
Willas's eyebrow raised. She seemed to know, it wasn't Willas's deepest desire, but it was a truth. At some point, it had to come about that a Tyrell, not a Lannister or a Targaryen, would sit by the side of the Targaryen King that was on the throne as Queen. Though...memories of Margaery remained raw even still, as he looked down at the quills and parchment he had, then back at Arya.
"An interesting thought indeed. The breadbasket and coffers of the realm in marriage."
"And a lot of steel. We know the lay of our land. There are castles and places they can hide. The Reach isn't all perfect all the time, you know. There are squabbles, minor conflicts between minor Lords, from time to time over some boundary of some field somewhere. If they could be anywhere, they would be there. Hiding in the chaos."
"Arya nodded. The men will be dispatched immediately. Your son could win himself some glory if he joined them. Now as for the sympathizers, we don't know who they are yet, but they must have some support to be a threat now. The Lords of all the Houses, well the important ones, are loyal to the best of our knowledge. Hightower and Redwyne are bound to you by blood and marriage. Tarly and Florent are too closely allied to you and the throne by friendship to try such a thing. But you Reachman families are notoriously large. It is likely second sons and cousins are helping the Gardeners. Any candidates you can think of?"
"None I can think of. Goldengrove is close to us, as is Peake, and most others. It'll be among the grassroots. Bastards, minor Lords, and beyond the family, few are able to muster a claim. They may have dissent in their lower lords. Here at court, it'd be difficult to know who was with them. Same again. If they have contacts in the peasantry, or servants, that could be worrysome."
"Hmm I see. Do you have any agents on your side who could help us identify those sympathizers? Both here and across the Reach. And of course, they probably have support in other pretender houses like the Reynes."
"A few trusted men. Back at home. Here, the men who pay taxes tend to be the ones who find out all there is to know about who pays, who doesn't. Sometimes finding people doesn't take a team of stalkers or spies. It just takes someone who knows who has paid, and who hasn't. And a taxman is good at that." Willas chuckled, shaking his head, as he gently sat up further, brushing his little hair across his brow.
"I wouldn't be suprised. Whoever thinks they can stand up to the Great Houses, they must have more than just idiococy behind them."
Arya smirked, "Rooting out spies with taxmen? Ingenious. And my sister's gold cloaks will give the investigations some meat behind them. Draw up a list of the best men and I'll fold them into the inquiries as quickly as possible. And I'll invite you to dinner with Sansa. We can hammer out the details for any potential marriages there, even if not between Lannister and Tyrell, there are many oppurtunities. I'm looking for suitors for my Robb and Cat after all. I shall leave you to it my Lord. Have a good day."
With that Arya nodded and strode out of the doors silently and confidently.
Alerie had been in rest, when she heard the knock, quickly sitting up and coming to the door. Seeing Julianna, Baela and Lysara following, she gave a characteristic beam, that of the red-haired Tyrell seeming to just have this light that followed her where she went. The burgandy-red contrasted the light golden-green she wore right now, an elegant an thin dress that did not cover her arms, her hair left to gently curl to her shoulders.
"A day cruise? I must say...that sounds marvelous, Princess!" Alerie replied, looking behind at the other two ladies behind Julianna, the blonde-haired Lannister the future Queen, and someone she wanted to impress. She had to say, Julianna had played it well, after all, Alerie had once wondered herself what it would take to be Queen. And yet Julianna had the mark of one, she was certainly capable, and unlike her father, was remarkably pretty, and would serve well.
"On good authority Julianna....well, I wouldn't go as far as that. But your brother, he is rather dashing." Alerie giggled, brushing a lock away from her face, as she stepped out of her room, catching a glipse of the other two.
Julianna smiled, reaching to grasp Alerie's hands in a conspirational and friendly gesture, "Indeed. He takes after my uncle more than my father. The Young Lion. I am so proud. He will wield Brightroar someday and many think he'll be a Gold Knight within a few years. I know for certain that Tom is enamored of you my lady. And our fathers are friends. It simply makes the most sense doesn't it? Now is there anyone you wish to take with us on the cruise? It's quite a large vessel."
Alerie clasped in return, her hands warm and very soft, almost satin-like to the touch, as she chuckled light-heartedly, her approval yet prior thought on that one not wanting to make it too definitive to everyone.
"He got friendly enough with my brother. But then again, they're both long-haired, talented swordsmen. And Ell does like finding a sparring partner that can give him a run for his money too, maybe saw that in him." She said, her face in a particular warm grin, as she looked on at Lysara, before back at Julianna.
"I'd be fine alone, I imagine. My father is busy at work, and my handmaidens can stay behind, tend to my quarters and help out the other Tyrell servants here. I'd rather love to see it."
"Then see it we shall." Julianna looped an arm through Alerie's and led her down the hall, Ser Wex of the Kingsguard falling in behind the noble women as they walked along the Red Keep to the royal shipyard, the future Queen making pleasent conversation with her potential sister in law.
Lysara stood silent behind her lady, princess Baela. The last few days, none of her usualy razor sharp comments had been heard, as she just resigned to play her part to be a demure and proper handmaiden. She was being watched, after all. She just needed to watch and learn from the time being. Her fine clothes reflected that. Like many a Valyrian beauty, she had made use of clear hues to accentuate her own silver hair and frame, but unlike many, she had chosen to wear these days a hood and a veil, thus reducing the sightings of her exuberance to a minimum. Tom Lannister.
Her lips curled to a modest smile, as she let out a giggle, sympathetically with Alerie. Her stance relaxed, as she impishly leaned forward, the folds of her tunic struggling to hide the bountifulness of her chest, and gestured for her lady to lend she her ear.
"They do make a good couple, don't they." She whispered. "Although I do wonder,should the coin and the food be put in the same basket?". She added, her tone becoming ever so subtle as she smiled to Alerie and the rest of people.
Baela smiled at Alerie and whispered back to Lysara, "I don't see why not Lysara. The Dragon and the Lion are already tied together. It would be good for the realm at large if the Lannisters and the Tyrells finally embraced each other. What reason could there be to object?"
Alerie looked around Baela, seeing them whisper, but taking nothing of it, hearing only the faintest chatter that she knew would be a rumour. Let it swill as a rumour, she thought to herself. After all, information leaks were a currency that fuelled the economy of King's Landing. They were the political economy that made it turn around, and that was merely a single Golden Dragon in comparison to the mountains that came from certain plots or knowledge.
"Give me a few minutes to prepare. I shall join you soon."
Lysara said nothing in addition, before giving a thoughtful nod to her lady, and clasping her hands, assumed her once again subdued position. There was going to be a social gathering, and the crown favored Alerie and Tom Lannister. Well, that could be convenient in a way. Lysara had one chance only to raise in rank, and she would rather make her attempt with the coveted Targayen princes. The Tyrell had decided to pursue other objectives, much to her relief in some regard.
Julianna and her entourage soon made their way to the royal shipyard where another group awaited them. Queen Daenerys Stormborn herself was seen conversing with her daughter Daenyra and Lady Sansa, and Tom Lannister stood nearby with his twin brothers, all three Lannister sons in rich red doublets of the finest velvet, Tom with a cloth of gold half-cape and a beautiful longsword with a lion pommel strapped to his hip. Many other friends of the royal family and lords and ladies of the court were also present. Tom was the first to greet the young women, coming forward to incline his head and kissing Alerie's hand, "My lady, this dock is choked with fish and salt, but already everything is sweeter in your presence."
Alerie emerged from the carriage at the Royal Shipyard, her dress the same, albeit with a little more padding around the shoulders and at her neck, an exquisite flower poking out of her neck, blue and red in colour, rather strange indeed, against her golden-green dress, which smelled of roses and sat loosely on her body, revealing ample cleavage, exposing her arms. It was a light dress for a hot day such as today, as she saw the Queen, Sansa and Tom, as well as his two twin brother stand like Lannisters, a sight that any Tyrell barely a decade ago would have despised. But Alerie had to say, their gold was rather pretty. Alerie seemed almost exotic, rather extraordinary as a lady of court, the Tyrell definitively a Tyrell by the golden clasps on her dress, and the very fair nature of her body and red hair, brushed gently in their soft and shallow curls. She approached Tom, blushing a little, hardly helping herself.
"Thank you, Tom. I suppose I shouldn't say there's a brothel not too far from here either...." Alerie giggled as she gently hugged him, standing on her tip-toes of her shoes, chuckling.
"I suppose that would be no way for a Lady to talk. But know you are fine to be yourself in my presence. Your velvet is lovely, I must say, Ser Tom." She smiled at him, beaming, as she turned to his twins, nodding politely, catching the eye of the Queen.
"Queen Danaerys....an honour to join you today."
Tom blushed as well, though he hid it admirably and returned her hug with as much refined restraint as he could manage, "I'm afraid my garments seem like rags next to yours." Daenerys approached Alerie, extending her dragon ring for Alerie to demonstrate her supplication and favoring her with a smile, "My you are lovely, a true Tyrell. I'm pleased you're joining us today. I see you're already getting on well with my children, Prince Jahaerys doesn't deign to give rides very often. How have you been finding the capital?"
Alerie nodded, knowing that any emotion here would be clear to see, no matter what. The Queen was right in her motives, a cunning woman, but when you had the hand of one of the greatest dragons in the known world, and the power to turn millions to ash, she knew that was almost a given.
"I have found it wonderful, my Queen. Rather different to Highgarden, but majestic in it's own right and on a scale I've never seen." She replied,
Daenerys smiled, "I am glad to hear it. You may stay as long as you wish, a beautiful girl like yourself will do very well here. Come, here's my daughter-in-law's vessel." The Queen pointed to the pleasure barge, a large sleek craft made with the finest wood and material, staffed by some of the finest sailors in the kingdoms. A mermaid stood at the prow and the sails flew both the gold lion and the red dragon. A large complement of mummers, jugglers, singers, and other performers were already embarking on along with a large group of Lion's Pride guardsmen and Targaryen men-at-arms as well as Kingsguard. The vessel was made by the best shipwrights in Lannisport and was called Lady Joanna
. Julianna sidled up to Alerie, "What do you think my lady? A fine conveyance for you?"
Alerie sat down, this boat reminding her of one back home, that used to go up and down the Mander. "The Roseway" was a fine riverboat indeed that she remembered from her young years, though nothing as extravagant as this had ever been seen by her yet. She sat back in the soft seat, flanked by the Ladies of the court, the performers bringing the mood of the boat to life.
"This is rather fine, I must say Julianna....and named after your grandmother. A fine craft." Alerie said sweetly, the boat like a living bond of the Lannister and Targaryen familiies.
Daenerys, smiled, "My wedding gift to Julianna. Now let us embark." At her command, the rest of the guests boarded the vessel, which would make a circut up and down the Blackwater Rush, then the coast near King's Landing, before finally arriving back at the Red Keep for the dinner feast.
The pleasure boat was a marvelous place, a million miles away from all the worries, stresses and issues of the world. The canvas covered the warm sun from breaking through, as Alerie sat on the comfortable pillow next to Julianna and the other ladies. Alerie had told Amber to stay put back at home, her services wouldn't be needed until after she wanted them to be.
Daenerys sat next to the mysterious Daenyra, her quiet infant on her hip as mother and daughter conversed with Lady Sansa and other luminaries of the court. Baela and Lysara sat with Alerie and Julianna, Rhaenys giggling with her cousin Corlys while Tom demonstrated a knife trick to his brothers and comrades. Baela strung her harp, singing beautifully as they drifted across the water and Julianna conversed with Alerie, "My lady, how long do you plan on staying here at court? A word to the king and you can be our guest for as long as you desire. You seem to be enjoying yourself." A servant came with grapes and wine and the mummers soon began a fanficul comedy about a group of young lovers lost in a forest.
Among the Targaryens and Lannisters, Alerie almost felt out of place, if it wasn't for the fact that she looked a little different and brought something beyond the red, black and gold. She turned to Julianna, nodding as she knew she'd made the right connection. Julianna was right in saying that- after all, staying here in King's Landing, she could make the connections she needed to, compared to Highgarden. That was her brother's lair now, and given he had three children and his wife, Eve, it wouldn't make much sense to really go back and give it all away. This was now her place, she thought to herself, irrespective of her father.
"I plan on staying for a little while longer. To keep my father company, and of course, serve my family's interests. Us Tyrells are rather soft in our diplomatic power." She gave a gentle smirk, as she took a grape, the mummers beginning their comedy and making Alerie chuckle, as she looked on, recognizing the grapes as she tasted them. Dornish, too sour to be that of her home. She watched Tom do his little trick, as she looked on, turning back to the Princess, Queen-to-be, as she took a moment to find her words.
"I am thankful for your suggestion, Julianna. I am humbled by it."
Julianna beamed, "It is no trouble. I believe it is only for the best if Lannister and Tyrell became true friends, to heal the scars of the past. You will love it here." Tom flipped the knife in his hands, a squire throwing up an apple about ten feet away for Tom to expertly skewer it in the air, to the appreciating gestures of his friends. He looked over at Alerie and grinned before turning back to the other Westerlanders. A young Greyjoy attempted to one-up him by flinging an axe through another apple. A bit more away, Prince Jahaerys was philosophizing with a group of other youths, engaging in a spirited debate with Aemon Rayder. Cat Baratheon and Alys Tarth laughing with the young Rickon Mormont and Steffon Seaworth while Sam Snow looked on in tranquil quiet. Julianna leaned in to Alerie, whispering conspirationally, "Surely you are looking for worthy suitors my lady. There are no shortage of such here. Who do you have your eye on?"
Alerie leaned in, her grin changing almost.
"Well...there are many. But you know the rumour. And my father seemed to be partial. I need to ask you, what of Tom. I do not intend to be a housebound wife for the rest of my life. I know a Lady's role. But you and I both know Ladies have changed much. And I do not want to sit back, if you understand my meaning." She said, looking across again.
"Jahaerys is nice, but...I sadly am not interested in a Valyrian. And I suppose, in reality, I serve my House like Tom serves House Lannister. And he is rather pretty, I suppose. He sees the same in me. I can't see why I can't work." Alerie's moment with Julianna alone seemed like a simple way to put it across, as she took another grape. She didn't want to say it to Julianna- the reality was more than what she'd said. Marrying into the Targaryens would bring with it actually little status, given that House Tyrell was already incredibly prestigious in the realm, almost as high in reputation as House Lannister due to their wealth and influences. But marrying a Lannister, well, that was the neighbours who they did their trade with, and even some basic banking with. And it sounded sensible, given that it was a significant block to any Targaryen reform that could be resisted by two enormous powerhouses in the South-West of the realm. Alerie paid a little attention to the other festivities on the boat, taking it all in, it was an excess but it was beautiful, but the sea air seemed to stick to her more than anything else.
"There are many scars to heal, I suppose. And some of my family will not approve. Neither will our Kingdoms. But if he is suitable, from what you may tell me, then it might prove to be the only way to sow our realms back together."
Julianna replied, "True there are many men of the West that still hold grudges, both high and lowborn. But the Lion need not make themselves servant to other whims and neither should the golden rose. There's no problem with not being attracted to Prince Jahaerys. It may be for the best. The word around court is that he will be sent to administer the Bay of Dragons and help prepare the territory to defend against violence. Doubtless any wife of his would need to follow and I do not know if your ladyship would like the Bay." Julianna smiled, gesturing to her brother, "But Tom. He has all of Jaime's charm and skill and all of Tyrion's wit and cunning. And ambition. He will not just be Lord of the West, I can tell you for sure. He wants to become Lord Commander of the Gold Knights, and I know he will want to one day be the Hand as our father is or a member of the Council at any rate. He dreams of raising the Lannisport fleet to rival even the Redwynes and he has an understanding of politics, strategy, and trade. He is the perfect heir and wherever he goes, his wife will go with him. Great things are in store for my brother, of that I am absolutely sure. You and He could be the bridge to unite the Reach and the West as we once were long ago. It is a wonderful match to my mind. Your father and mine would both agree, I'm sure."
Alerie nodded, in agreement. Both in reality and in her mind, Tom was excellent. While she wished to stay a little single a little longer, the answer gave her a little faith, at least there was some wriggle room. Some things had to be sorted in King's Landing after all, and she knew that much so far.
"You're selling him to me well. I can see those things on him already. He's ambitious, unlike some I've met. Driven, and he has a Lion's roar to him. And so long as he wouldn't keep me housebound, I imagine a Lion could use a Rose by his side, a softer touch. You know how our family is. We are led by a male Lord...but our blood runs thickest in our women." Alerie slyly spoke, leaning forwards in the comfy seat.
"My father used to tell me that it was Margaery Tyrell who pulled the strings in court, she wanted to be Queen so intently, she brought such life to the court with her smile. Nothing stopped her, marriage or otherwise. She was who she was, she was the kind, sweet, and noble Queen Tyrell, charitable and thoughtful in equal measure. It is not our men who are the most remarkable. Behind every great Lord that the Reach produces, there is a stronger Lady. And who knows what I seem to be." Alerie added, as she looked across at Tom again, sighing. Her red hair blew in the sea breeze, her fair and soft face gently
"And I fancy staying in Westeros too. Give Tom a little more than just wit and abillity with a sword."
Julianna smiled, "I don't know about that, your brother is rather remarkable. But I agree, my lord father and mother told me much about your royal aunt. It is a shame I never had the chance to meet her. Of course, we know who is responsible for that." Julianna frowned, thinking on her aunt, the Mad Queen Cersei, who nearly engulfed the city in wildfire and was King Jon and Queen Daenerys' primary enemy before uncle Jaime had ended her madness. Sometimes Jaime would look at her sadly and say that he saw some of his sister in her, the idea troubled the future queen greatly.
Julianna put it out of mind and said, "I think you're Tom's best marriage prospect and the same is true on your end. But I am sure all manner of young men are competing for your favor. I know ladies are positively flocking to Tom. Lord Marband, Lord Brax, and Lord Crakehall are all set on marrying their daughters to him, and he has many admirers here at court. I believe Alys fancies him as well. So you have no shortage of competition."
Alerie chuckled, knowing full well that was the case, for both of them.
"Many in my Kingdom, at court, and here. A Tyrell is always a figure of. Then if you think of it well, I shall court him. It will break Jahaerys's heart, but I imagine we'll still be good friends. I never betray the trust of those who look after me and my family. And I am thankful for you, Julianna. Perhaps it is for the best that us both want to see beyond our pasts and to the future. Let him know when you are together that I mean that." She replied, brushing a little of her red hair aside, taking Julianna's hand, her palm warm, soft to the touch, somewhat strange almost. She knew Julianna knew her own family history wasn't as fruitful, given the history of how Margaery had indeed been killed. A horrifying bedtime tale, Alerie knew her aunt would have been someone she would have liked to have met.
Julianna inclined her head, "I shall. I will try and get Tom to ask you along on a trip or somesuch. After all, he should be pursuing you." She giggled, "The Prince will abide, he has no shortage of prospects either, I half expect him to be engaged to one of Aegon's children. But yes, it is only for the best that our houses put past emnities behind us. And I welcome your friendship with all my heart. If the gods are kind, we will be sisters someday." Julianna grasped Alerie's hand back and the Rose and the Lion enjoyed each other's company as the mummers played their comedic farce.
"It's what I used to think. Sometimes you just need to encourage that special someone." Alerie beamed, giggling as she turned to the small table by their side, taking the cup of wine and gently drinking a little, sighing as she watched on, enjoying her time with Julianna.
Meanwhile, the hooded Valyrian beauty, Lysara, had been rather silent and demure. After the chipper, and somewhat awkward first encounter in the High society, she had adopted a much more subdued position, tailing Baela like a ghost and tending to her needs, almost as if she were a servant more. And yet, she had perks no baseborn could ever imagine. For starters, all the nice morsels had been hers to take. She had not held back, even behind her impenetrable visage, and she could've heard some servants commenting on how she had eaten the share of two grown knights and if she was not of the dragon blood rather than Lyseni, given her appetite. Besides, all this exchange of pleasantries to spawn babies between roses and lions while it was supposed to be lively, it nevertheless was droll and boring. But etiquette had to be upheld. She wished to tell Baela how dull and boring this whole thing was, and if she would rather honor her humble self by playing a duet song with Lysara as the second voice, but it was improper for a handmaiden. And out of nowhere, her escape from such prison of etiquette came forth. The jar of wine seemed empty, and only Lysara seemed to spot it. Grabbing the jar deftly, she shook it a couple of times.
"My ladies, and your grace. I hate to interrupt, but something dreadful has happened." She chimed, finally giving in to her rather razor tongue, if not by sheer boredom. "We have run dry of this magnificent red." Lysara smiled. "And the servants might take some time to fetch more. May I go there myself?"
Baela, singing a lovely ballad about the rise of Queen Daenerys and King Jon to the Iron Throne, paused for a moment to address her handmaiden, oblivious of Lysara's boredom, "Oh certainly, Lysara. You needn't but it is very kind of you." Baela continued, the other ladies barely deigning to give Lysara as much as a look before dismissing her. It was clear that though she was buxom and beautiful, she was still underneath notice for the most part.
Lysara performed a graceful bow, before standing up with the jar in hand, her pace being elegant yet brisk, as she beelined for the wine barrels, squeezing through the random guests with the grace of a dancer, eyes set on her goal. It seemed that she had gained some status and Baela seemed to recognize her, but for the most part, those ladies seemed to not notice her. She was just a beatiful bird of a handmaiden, but nothing more. Let them think that.
The servant's fluster could not be more evident as Lysara politely declined her assistance and leaning before the tap herself, proceed to refill the jar herself, with a skilled hand. It was clear that she was no stranger to serving drinks, a leftover trait of her past as camp follower.Oh, I will show you something good, my ladies and grace.
Lysara mischievously smirked as she took firm but elegant steps, filled jar in hand... but not towards the table she had once, sat. Her target was Jaeherys himself. Deftly spotting his cup in his hand, she wasted no time in pouring some of the wine she carried into his, a single sentence escaping her lips.
"An artist needs a good harp, and a skilled artist of the words needs not to let his lips run dry,my prince." She chimed, revealing herself to the small grouping, who probably thought she was another unknown servant in the chaotic party ebb and flow. Probably now she would be trespassed by the stares of all the prince's suitors... but she did care very little about that. Am i beneath your notice now, you pompous nobles?
She thought to herself, as she gave an elegant curtsy and made the gesture to make herself scarce.
Prince Jaeherys, surrounded by several young knights and lordlings as well as a fair amount of highborn ladies, saw Lysara and a flash of recognition seemed to cross his eyes. He held out a wine cup to her, and said, "I know you don't I?" The silver hair often should have been enough, but many lowborn dragonseeds were at court now and Jahaerys saw many pretty women, "Yes, I believe we met. Lysara, yes?" In the general hubbub, all of the prince's highborn companions didn't even notice the newcomer or the conversation, a curious kind of privacy.
"Yes, my prince. Your ability to recognize people is impressive, specially for only a simple handmaiden of your own sister, princess Baela." She added, turning once more to face the prince and offering another corteous greeting... this one emphasizing her natural talent."Your cup seemed empty, so I filled it for you."
The Prince, to his credit only stared for a second before casually looking away with a slightly awkward cough he covered with his hand, "I thank you. And it was no great feat to recognize you. Your loveliness is quite unique here at court." He took the pitcher and laid it on a nearby table, pouring a cup for Lysara before handing it to her, "I'm sure you serve my sister very well. But please excuse me when I say you don't have the look of a servant, not at all. I wager you're a highborn lady, and you shouldn't be pouring drinks. Am I wrong?"
"Well, to be fair, my prince." Lysara said, beaming that mischievous smile of her. "My father was into the business of wine trade." She added, as she gulped part of the cup the prince offered. "And while I do carry blood of nobles, there's no shame in playing servant to someone you appreciate... After all."
She added after savouring the drink. "Valar Dohaeris. All men must serve, and I have to add Valyrian is gender neutral...my prince." She finished.
Prince Jaeherys sipped his own wine, favoring her with a smile, "That is true, we all serve someone. But I hope you don't mind if I refer to you as a lady, it is the respect due to you." He laughed a bit at the expression, "My Aunt is very fond of that saying. Valar Morghulis, all men must die. Another truism."
Jaeherys took Lysara by the hand and escorted her to a more private corner of the boat, away from his friends, "A wine merchant? I never would have guessed. Are you Lyseni? What brings you all the way here, when you have wealth and comfort at home?"
Lysara sighed, her gaze averted as she swilled in the cup. "True, there was one time when my father was so wealthy he could afford marrying my mother, a Rogare. But Lys is known also for devouring people who become enthralled with their beauty. His wealth. His sanity... and even his life were taken away. Me and my brother were left with nothing." The Lyseni conceded."So we braved our luck through Essos and the Sea, and try luck anew in the land of Westeros." The young Lyseni said, finishing her cup.
"And by the way... my mother died at birth too. Just like a certain person of High standing." She adding, knotting together the summary of her life, after having heard the tales of Daenerys the Queen of Dragons and the similar fact that both people shared in their lives.
Jaeherys seemed enthralled in Lysara's story, looking at her with sympathy, "I'm so sorry to hear that Lysara, nobody deserves to suffer in such a way. But Westeros is a land of new beginnings. And yes, I see your point. My mother began life with very little. Now she is Queen of Westeros, Mother of Dragons. I'm sure you will do very well for yourself here." Jaeherys sipped some more wine, "A Rogare you say? A very prestigious line indeed. The Rogares married into my family on occasion. And now Triarch Rogare is one of the most powerful men in the Kingdom of Three Daughters. A clever leader and fine warrior with the sword Truth. Mayhaps, you know him."
After a moment, a realization dawned on him, "Ah, you know my brother don't you? Prince Rhaegar is very enamored with your ladyship, I seem to recall you were constant companions before he embarked for the Stepstones, isn't that right?"
"Indeed he was. He has one of the most rare qualities in this world. A virtous heart, full of honor. He only sees to the good of others. Remembers me of a certain dullard of a brother who is now in the same campaign." Lysara seemed to pout, as she averted her gaze. "I have no doubt... he would be able to become a Kingsguard like he dreams, but I do believe this great kingdom has need for more Red Dragons, and less White Dragons." Lysara chimed in, as she eyed Jaeherys.
Jaeherys arched a silver brow at the lady, "He told you much, perhaps too much. But it is true, my little brother wants to be one of the White Swords. A Dragonknight. He's the fourthborn, he won't be King like Aemon or Prince of Summerhall like Viserys, or Prince of Dragon's Bay like myself. But he can be Lord Commander of the Kingsguard." Though they had their rivalries, there was a certain note of pride in Jaeherys' voice, "But evidently you disagree? Do you mean to become a princess my lady?"
"Yes." Lysara said deadpan, her stance neutral. "There is no use in denying it. I am not so innocent to believe true love moves the world. It's connections. However, I am not so heartless to treat poorly whoever I choose to be my companion in this world. Trust is scarce in Essos, Westeros, the Summer Islands, Sothoryos or anywhere." Lysara firmly gripped her cup, staring at the prince. "A brother of mine already died for chasing a dream of Targayen fantasy and dragons, and I would do him a disservice if I don't stake my life as a whole, my prince."
Jaeherys was a bit taken aback by the firmness and directness of the statement, used to the double entendres and sly jokes of the royal court, and his expression became pensive, "I see. You are a woman who knows what she wants, a dangerous thing indeed. Rhaegar is still young, and a Prince of the Realm. There will be many potential brides, and I cannot speak for him or my father and mother. But I will say this. You may be beautiful, from an old family. Rhaegar may even fancy you. But that doesn't mean you will be the best possible bride for him, if he even chooses to marry and father doesn't drape a white cloak around his shoulders. You're not a known quantity yet. The marriage at this point would benefit you far higher than it would our family. Perhaps if your brother proves himself at war it may come to something. Or if your family is otherwise recognized for some deed. Perhaps you may be of use when we must engage with the Triarchy. But for now, I can only say that the dream is currently out of reach."
Jaeherys sipped wine, thinking, "If you want a royal husband, you need to demonstrate royal value. You can certainly become a paramour of a prince, my brother Viserys will not object to that, but a bride is another thing. Unless you're willing to marry my bastard cousin Daemon. But I have a feeling you might gain some advantage later."
Lysara just swung the pitcher once more. "Out of wine again. A shame." She added, biting her lip. Her brother was still thick into the fight. The wine was making her dizzy. Her eyes glared at Jaeherys. "Do not me write off so soon, oh Prince. Let me tell you a certain something. I did not come to this land completely empty handed. Nor deluded. I came to possess the very same thing that made her Grace a queen." She added, flaring up.
Jaeherys once again arched a brow, doubtlessly thinking Lysara was simply drunk, "And what would that be my lady. You have a queenly beauty for sure, a queenly bloodline even. But little else to my eye, if you pardon me saying."
"I possess an egg." Lysara simply whispered back, in a hoarse voice. "A dowry befitting a prince, that few people in Westeros would even have." She added. The wine was really making her head spin...
Jaeherys smiled, amused, "Many people wished they possessed such a thing. Oh there are many frozen trinkets around the world, but only my family has live eggs to my knowledge. Though I admit such a dowry would significantly increase your chances." Seeing she was tipsy, Jaeherys slipped her hand into his once more, taking the jug, "You've had a bit too much to drink my lady, I'll take you back to my sister."
Lysara took the hand groggily as she eyed Jaeherys. Her hand felt the touch of his. His unwanted touch, and the memories surfaced. Her other hand flicked quickly, before revealing a tiny piece of metal in her hand. Drunken as she was, her pulse didn't tremble, as she reflexively placed it on the prince's throat artery.
"Don't touch me." She growled. "without my permission. I do not care about the guards or your highborn status." She added, before waking up from her daze, and clumsily hidding her dagger once more. "The Queen and Baela are gonna flail me for this."
Jaeherys, to his credit, was more surprised then afraid and was utterly flabbergasted by the move, "I see drink affects you deeply." He let her hand go and took his leave, staring at her. It was clear she would be hard pressed to make a friend of the prince now. Luckily, in the general commotion, nobody had seemed to notice the move and it looked for a second as if Lysara could get away clean. Until a familiar presence revealed itself. Alys Tarth, furious, accosted Lysara, "Did my eyes deceive me or did I see a handmaiden threaten a prince? Are you completely mad? I should strike you down for threatening my friend and prince."
"Yes. I did threaten a prince. Do what you must. Strike me down. I don't care anymore. I failed in what I wanted to achieve in first place." Lysara said, standing tall.
Alys scoffed, "A quick death is too easy for you. Guards! Seize her!" There was a chorus of shouts as onlookers gasped in surprise at the drunken confession. Ser Wex of the Kingsguard and two other White Swords surrounded the lady, along with several Lannister and Targaryen men-at-arms. Baela shouted in surprise and dismay and Queen Daenerys looked on impassively as the Kingsguard motioned for Lysara to relinquish herself into custody.
"Heh. Sorry Seran." Lysara added, her dagger drawn out... and in a quick and flawless movement, she slashed her own throat, splotches of crimson ruining her dress. "I guess I staked my life and lost."
The commotion on the other side of the boat was nothing to Alerie, as she talked with Julianna, before the noise of guards and rustling could be heard. Her heart fluttered like a butterfly's wings, as she saw that one sight, that one that would burn into her memory. She had come close to some people being killed, but not in this exact moment, watching what she had done. It was a horrifying sight, as she held back her voice, keeping quiet and silent in her shock, holding Julianna's hand tight. Julianna for her part, gripped back just as tightly and suppressed a scream in horror at the sight of the violence. Baela sat in incomprehension.
Ser Wex moved quickly, one of his brothers grasping the knife and flinging it to the side as Lysara fell to the floor. The Kinsguard ripped off his white cloak and and placed it to Lysara's throat, staunching the bleeding as a Maester ran over and began frantically tending to the wound. Alys was also shocked and the air rang with screams of highborn ladies.
Daenerys, calmly, said, "Captain, take one of the lifeboats and convey the handmaiden and the Maester back to the Red Keep with utmost speed. Have Grand Maester Samwell tend to her. She can be saved if you act quickly. Afterwards, take her to a tower cell. I have questions to ask her." The Targaryen soldier nodded and Lysara, blacked out, was placed on a boat, sailing back to the port as the Maester did his best to stop the bleeding. Suffice to say, the day cruise was utterly ruined.
Alerie had a single tear run down her cheek, as she looked on, feeling as close as she could be to Julianna, turning to the Queen to be, a look in her eyes not of total weakness or frailty, but of some sort of rock, Alerie didn't seem to break entirely, she seemed to almost be a little sisterly to Julianna.
"It's going to be okay." The way she said it, it seemed like the best thing she could really say, no other words could do it, Alerie's voice trembling a little, but remaining strong, almost giving Julianna something to hold on.
Julianna, was no shrinking violet, but she hugged Alerie close to her side and Baela close to her other side, taking solace in the company and not letting the tears fall from her face as she looked on, immeasurably greatful for the presence of Alerie. The incident only cemented Julianna's regard of Alerie and Tom Lannister proved himself dependable, going to his sister's side and comforting her. The boat waited for the smaller, faster skiff to make its way back to port and followed, the day cruise cancelled as the party returned to the Red Keep.
----------Grey Ice, The Stepstones
The fighting had died down, and in time, moving into the islands had been a rather good thing, it felt like. Ellion had spent about five minutes after the battle just puking up overboard, both from food, adrenaline and the crashing waves, his body perfectly at ease with killing people something he could not entirely reconcile with this right now. He was still getting used to this, after all, and a large scale battle was something to behold, the smell of bodies and dead people everywhere, in bits, made enough smell to make his stomach churn. He came back to himself quickly, cleaning up fast and changing out of his bloody armour, getting a drink afterward.
On shore at Devil's Rest, Ellion had changed into a more fitting garb that didn't have anything of riches, or of money, and fit the fact that this was incognito. His hair had been left messy, and while of course, it was clear he was taller and some kind of noble, he could have easily been a pirate. The sea-swept appearance had turned his brown hair darker, it almost helped to sell the image that he was a pirate of some kind, with all the suave to back it up. Ellion had no doubt he could slip into that frame of mind, albeit being a little more educated and smarter than some of these people.
Listening to Aemon, he knew he couldn't comprimise himself, not in front of Merebelle and go to a whorehouse, that would be too easy. He was smarter than that, if he was going to play behind her back....well, that would come later. Not just yet, he thought to himself, as he made his choice. It was almost torture, given that he wasn't really in a position to turn away from Merebelle right now, yet wanted to run into that whorehouse with open hands and his trousers down. It was something about several women, or men at once, he thought to himself, slyly chuckling, as he thought back to matters of more importance.
"A hive of scum indeed...Aemon, I shall come with you."
The heir to the throne nodded, "The Lord Commander will accompany us. And my blood of my blood as well. Anyone else?"
Seran eyed the panorama displayed before his eyes. After the battle had been done and said, he could not even begin to utter a word of relief. His gamble of burning himself early in the fight to allow for the trained-but-ultimately-inexperienced bannermen of westeros gear up to match the pirates in combat had paid off. It still hurt a bit, though. He wondered if he would end up unrecognizable after this campaign. However, he wished his looks were a bit less... exotic given the circumstances of infiltrating a town of miscreants and raiders, but all the soot and dirt could sometimes exert a miracle. His eyes wandered to the Tyrell Ser, as his opinion was voiced in thoughts only. Yeah, go with sir Aemon. It's obvious you will lap up any opportunity to throw your fat cat status around. I doubt it will be of use, given the amount of outlaws that is bound to be here
. He cleared his throat.
"M'lord, I shall accompany Lord Viserys. Chances are I may know some of these folk from Essosi campaigns." He added. Well, it was a possibility, but he dreaded that half the island knew his name... and his foul reputation in Essos.
Viserys smirked, "That's Prince to you Seran. But I will welcome the help. Our best bet will probably be that brothel nearby."
Aemon frowned, "We have a job to do Viserys."
"And we will do it much better once everyone is relaxed. Plus nobody knows quite as much as whores. It's a win-win brother."
Internally, Ellion recoiled. He should have joined the whorehouse group.