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Current What lies in the hearts of the drae if not madness? - Ma'doc
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"Fly you fools!"
4 yrs ago
To everyone waiting on replies. They most likely will be out tomorrow or Saterday. I need to get a part for my computer!
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Sorry if replies are a bit slow. Dealing with a headache.


Hello! I'm LadyRunic! But you knew that...

I love most types of Role Play, but by far my favorites are those that are well thought out and worked with. Especially when you can find a group you can work well with. I love books- So many books. It's a running bet that I will become buried under a pile of said objects one day... I'm a tad busy, and when an Rp really catches my interest I'm inpatient for posts. It's like reading a good book and getting stuck on a cliff hanger.

You can generally expect posts regularly once a week if not more.

I've RP'd for the better part of fourteen years, so I can honestly say I have some experience and I've developed the understanding of what I expect of a partner in a one-on-one or a group. I'm also the sort who will speak up and point out something if it looks off or forms a problem to me. I spent most of a year once stuck in a Voice Chat Rp that was hell on Earth, so I'm straight forward when I need to say something. I expect this in return from my Rpers and DMs. I want to improve my writing and love constructive criticism.

Most Recent Posts

Elayne Rivers| Lord Lucas, Jeyne, and Hanna Harroway

The great Targaryen keep was a bold structure, or it would be when it was finished. As of now? It was a nestling egg with a fledgling city that reminded Lord Lucas Harroway more of a ramble of desperate smallfolk than a proper city. He had traveled to Westeros and Essos in his young years. Having seen Oldtown, Braavos, Myr, Tyrosh, Lys, even White Harbor, and Sunspear. In those days it had been as his father's envoy and then later as one of the men who had fought for King Aegon when the kings bent their knees and offered up their crowns or, in the case of his land's former owner, offered up their lives. He scoffed at the sight out of the window which opened into his quarters. A militant set up with furnishing for business and not pleasure. His bones grumbled about it as he moved across the room to sit on the heavy chair behind the desk and study the three women before him. Girls. Two were of use, the third a bastard he should have had the decency to drown in the God's Eye himself.

"Jeyne," The shorter of his children gave a guilty look, it was good for the girl to recognize her failings. Though he thought perhaps those might be turned to advantages if he could secure her a marriage in the North. Not a wealthy land by any means, but it would suit if a better offer did not come along. Particularly if he could see of a Stark or Manderly would take her for a wife. "I understand you are eager to get yourself seen by the dragon riders of Essos, but I will have no more of this sulking about the city. You are a daughter of my House and a young noblewoman who has yet to find a husband." His hand thumped the table. "I could care less what you do once you have one, so long as it is only your husband you entertain, but you will keep yourself confined to the Keep until then!" His glower was a fierce thing and Jeyne flushed with what appeared to Lucas as shame. He did not care to or simply did not notice, the shaking fists of outraged clenched to her sides.

Lucas was a prideful man, proud of his house and children. He wished them to marry well for the glory of the Harroway name as their sister had and thus perhaps he missed just how willful his middle daughter was. She was wild, but still his daughter and by the logic of the Lord of Harrenhal she would abide his word.

He frowned at his smiling youngest daughter, she looked particularly pleased to be there. Her large eyes only underlined her beauty, she was to marry very well if his wife was successful. Until then, he was to keep looking for alternatives and for Jeyne's future husband. It would not do for his youngest to marry before her sister. If worst came to worst, there was a knight brother or cousin of the Arryns that surely wouldn't mind a wife. "Hanna, stop simpering. You are not a wench like that one." The pale thing that stood back a bit flinched and Hanna sniffed indignantly. "There was a raven from Harrenhal, your mother is going to the Arryns to see if she can marry you to a relative of theirs if not the heir of the Vale himself. For all that they may frown on your sister being a second wife, a link to the throne is a useful tool. If she cannot find a marriage there, she will find one amongst the Lannisters or Tyrells-"

"You would have us marry stewards who struggle to hold their lands?" Hanna's tone was disgusted as she looked aghast at him. Any glee at the thought of marrying an Arryn was gone at the mention of the Tyrell house.

"I would have offered you to the Hightowers had not Alys married Maegor as his wife. They will not consider it for the so-called insult. The Conqueror had two wives! Why not the Prince? He needs an heir and a spare! If he would take a third wife I would give you to him as well and expect a child within the year!" The Lord of Harrnehal glared at his two daughters, his form leaned over his desk as he jabbed a finger at the door. "Out! Jeyne, keep to your lessons and your games with needle and thread. Make yourself into a proper woman!"

Jeyne, unlike her sister who protested loudly merely nodded as she and Hanna retreated the heavy door closing behind them. There was nothing she could say. Jeyne knew her father, he would accept nothing but obedience from his children. Perhaps they could simper and smile and reason him into a new gown or a new dancing master but not a new marriage when he thought it best for the House. It was as their mother said, men only wanted one thing and it was disgusting how true it ran.

For her part, Hanna only argued for the sake of it. Both of the sisters knew it. While Jeyne wore dresses of fawn browns and greens that gave her free movement, Hanna wore lace trim, silks, and stains that held tight to her figure and led the eye while still being proper enough. Her large doe eyes and pert lips were painted with the barest touches of powders and dyes while Hanna kept her reddish brown hair in lavish coils. Jeyne could admire her sister for that, her own red hair deepening as she aged and let loose while at court to its wild curls and tumbles. Her mother could never stand it, and so kept hers in a long braid that was the constant work of her servants.

"He is insane!" Hanna declared, flushed and pouting. "Me! Marry a Tyrell?!"

"He said mother is speaking to the Arryns." Jeyne pointed out, desperate to slip away from her sister's tantrum. Yet she didn't dare, if she disobeyed her father’s direct order he would have her locked in her rooms only to trot out like the prized broodmare she was for potential buyers.

"I suppose that is well enough." More than well enough, Hanna had gone on about the young man for a solid month. Longer perhaps, it was luck that got Jeyne away from her ramblings. Wincing she let Hanna gush and quote poetry about the Heir to the Vale. The middle of Harroway's mind was on other things, things across the sea and wide plains. She wanted something out there. Adventures like Damon had! Not to be trapped in stone walls and prattle at about the Seven and how she should be more maidenly!

Her thoughts strayed to the Ardent Maiden, that rose-coated woman who could swing a sword and command men. It was a glorious place to be, yet if she dared tried for such herself? Her father would lock her away in Harrenhal and declare her mad. Worse he might hand her over to become a Silent Sister. Grimacing, she tried to think of other, less terrible fates. For even a silent sister would be better than Hanna detailing the number of children she would have with Artys Arryn.

The lord of Harroway House was in a temper. Again Jeyne had gone off without his leave to fuss about the city, and again Elayne and the Harroway men-at-arms had to find her among the street muck of King’s Landing impersonating a lad. Worse, she had been jovial with a knight and the Harroway name had been recognized again. That had put the Lord into a fine fit of temper, but the recent news of Ser Osric’s flight into the Blackwater and Elayne’s part in it, something the Qoherys bastard had hoped would go unnoticed with the involvement of Vaera Balaerys being so integral, had turned into something of great gossip for the rumor mill. This meant the original debate had gotten wildly out of hand and the true story would do nothing to soothe the lord’s temper.

She was expendable and had blackened his name by association as a Harroway servant, daughter, or whatever position would advance the family. It always seemed to depend on the mood of Lord and Lady Harroway. A good marriage would make her daughter, a bastard but accepted. A scandal would leave her as a servant. This seemed like one of those ‘servant’ times.

“I care not if you wish to ply your feminine wiles with men.” The Lord remained sitting behind the desk that was spread with trade agreements, finances, and correspondences. His hand had thumped the surface hard enough several times to send some of those parchments down to the floor covered with Myrrish carpets. “You are just a whore as your birth entailed, it would be impossible to expect aught else out of a bastard.” The words were harsh and stung the pale woman as she gripped her hands before her. His growl had settled from the raging roars he had given his two daughters. There were no hours-long lectures from this man, it would do no good for their image after all and he had business to do. So his lectures and furious temper were often direct and would hit the person right where it would sting the most. For Hanna that would be her potential marriage prospects, for Jeyne her wild and willful pride would imply she would ruin herself, for Elayne her status as the bastard of Harroway.

The man continued, “But I will not have it with the knights of Houses. Hedge knights if you wish, but Ser Osric is a potential suitor for my daughters. If he would agree to take you for wife, I would only encourage it or even give you to that Balaerys woman for a mistress if she wished you. You are a tool to further the future of this House if we can find any use for you, as repayment for spending so many years tending to your needs you ungrateful bitch.” His voice rose in fury as he slammed his fist against the table again. “Causing a scene on the streets and encouraging Jeyne’s outings! Speaking to your betters like the Balaerys! Will you dare spread your legs for the Targaryen Princes? The King? Hoping they will grant you favors to better yourself?! I tell you now, go right on Whore of Harroway. Go and ply your trade and I will see you in the brothels rather than return when your patrons tire of you! I am already drafting an apology to Ser Osric for the besmirch to his honor and offering you compensation! If he takes you for a wife, I’ll lose a potential match for Jeyne!”

That startled Elayne, that the lord would offer her hand in marriage to a knight? To the Ser who had tried to seduce her to his rooms and hardly the other way around? Her eyes widened and an already pale face only turned white. “My Lord, I did not-! I tell you truthfully, I could do nothing to stop Lady Vaera Balaerys nor did I plan the encounter. Ser Osric-”

Her words halted in her throat as the Lord of Harrenhal pushed himself to his feet, glaring at the woman across from him. He had never liked Elayne, never cared for the child forced on his wife by the Qoherys Lord of Harrenhal. It had been perhaps a blessing that the outlaw had slain him, saving Lord Lucas from disgrace for killing his lord or leaving him alive. A puzzle of thought that still ate at the man. He knew Catelyn hated him for not protecting her, for allowing the Rite of First Night to happen, and for this bastard child to exist. Lucas had been sworn to the Lord of Harrenhal at that time, a knight to the man, to have stopped it he would have forfeited his life and his honor. An honor he had lost while allowing it and having this wisp of a woman reminded him of that loss every time he saw her pale figure ghosting the halls. He would have left her for the Silent Sister had she not been damned useful with her younger halfsisters. A potential marriage was there too, to gain the loyalty of a knight or perhaps a merchant. If a Lord would have her? So be it. But for all that potential use she still woke the worst of anger in him. That reminder that he had been impotence when his wife had been taken. The gall of this girl to speak so to him! “I do not care if he did or did not. You blackened our name by simply existing. Mocking my wife’s honor by walking about our halls. Perhaps I should have sent you with Damon as he asked. He said the Volanteen lords would find you perhaps beautiful enough to engage in trade with us.”

Elayne couldn’t help a word of protest from her lips pointless as it might be. The thought of being a pawn for that man was far worse than marriage to Ser Osric. Even for the risk of rousing the ire of the Lord of Harrenhal, she had to plead her case for it not to be so. “Damon-! To the Vonlanteen-! My Lord, I beg you. I truly did not-” Her soft and desperate pleas were cut off by a wooden figure cracking across her cheek.

Stumbling back, stunned, Elayne, clapped a hand over the cut. The wooden dog clattered the floor, its head dented by the force of the throw. Lucas was red in the face as he glared at the woman. “Keep your mouth shut. That is Ser Damon Harroway, bastard.” His voice was a graveled growl as he stomped about the desk. “I do not give a damn what you think or say. Your words are just as often lies as your fathers were. You are a woman with a snake for a tongue and vile seeping from your lips. You will get out of my sight, and stay out of my sight. Make yourself a useful marriage or go find a ship to Lys where women like you can use that vile to snipe at each other.” Hauling the woman by her arm, he threw her from his rooms and past the guards. “If you are brought to my attention again, I shall see you charged for thieving. The loss of a hand or an ear will dull that tongue of yours.”

Elayne hit the opposite wall and stared as the door shut. Her lips were thin as she felt blood spill down her cheek. It was a small cut, the bruise would be worse. Nothing she could not hide with a few of Hanna’s powders though it would earn her a beating if she was found filching them from the girl’s stash. Just as it would earn Hanna one for having them. Though Lord Lucas would look the other way so long as he didn’t ‘know’, if he was forced to acknowledge that his daughter practiced such low-born techniques, as he called them, she would be facing a rage. There was simply no pleasing the man if you had breasts and a pretty face.

Gaining her feet the woman retreated to tend to herself and kept her tears at bay. Her cheek hurt like the Stranger kissed it. She had been hoping to stay out of the Lord’s sight while on their travels here since Catelyn had urged her to be taken as an attendant for their two daughters. That had been a feat enough, but for Jeyne to suddenly pull out that willful pride of hers and want to explore? Elayne could only pray to the Mother that the girl learned to keep her head on better and that avoiding her father’s wrath was worth her discomfort. If she had not found Jeyne, Elayne would be facing a Lord in a higher of rage. If she had gone with Ser Osric? The Lord of Harrenhal would surely have sent her with Damon, something the latter had whispered in his threats and promises.

She was a tool to the House. A tool that could be broken and needed no replacement. She knew the Lord of Harrenhal kept mistresses in Harrentown and about the God’s Eye. She knew that Ser Jon, his heir disapproved, and that Lady Catelyn looked the other way and spat her fury at the servants and demeaned her daughters and the women about her pointing out flaws that she held. Ducking into one of the niches, she slumped against the wall and wiped away the blood. The cut was closing and would heal in a day or so. It had merely been a sharp edge of the statue. Her tears were not stopping however, Elayne was not a warrior. Not a cold woman and the thought of the future that the Lord of Harroway and his ‘merchant’ son pressed upon her made the Rivers girl panic. She did not wish to be trapped in a marriage where her husband would see her only as a thing of beauty for as long as that lasted then tossed aside or the more likely option? Tossed to the whore houses in Volantis for a price. That was what Damon most likely had in mind. He would leave her there to gather information for him.

By the Seven, Elanye missed Elmo. The young man had been a breath of fresh air in Harrenhal, now sent to the Citadel he was gone and no longer a safe space she could duck into his rooms to ‘clean’ or attend to any of his needs to ‘help’ him. It had been a way to avoid the others in that last year, she would ‘help’ while he talked about his studies and discussed things with her. A rather one-sided conversation but one she missed dearly. They could not return to Harrenhal soon enough, at least there she could disappear into those melted towers and be forgotten!

Collab with @Ruby

Oldtown was so classically named it was imaginative—an epitaph of the genius of modern man. The sarcastic thoughts of Elmo Harroway were bitter as he walked down the cobbled streets, his cane thumping the stones as he leaned on the wood and ivory. He, who once had been heir to Harrenhal in his own time, would now study under Maesters and scribes. Old men who had the imagination of dullards in political squabbles. The port had once been a trading town for the ancient Ghiscari, Valyrians and other fallen empires on Essos. It’s importance had not dulled with time. Here the Starry Sept held sway over the continent with the Faith of the Seven. The Hightower stood as a monument to the House that ruled over the city

A place of wonders and Elmo scorned the late King Aegon for not using this as the seat of his power. The Hightowers would have been strong supporters and it would have kept the Faith in constant reminder of the power of dragons. Yet that was all speculation that the young man knew better than to voice. Still, he couldn’t keep the sneer of disgust and irritation from his face as the dampness from the sea air made his leg ache.

“Port cities are nothing but an irritation.” He commented to his companion, Lady Vittoria Tyrell. A woman the man had come to respect over their travels together. Though how she had managed to learn enough to gain chains from the Maester left more to be wondered as to her possibilities. “I trust your meetings have gone well.” He offered, a small bit of conversation that would be considered the small talk Elmo had scorned so often. A pale hand moving as he paused to massage the muscle of his leg. “If those Maesters try to treat me rather than teach me, I shall be reduced to breaking heads.” The great sphinxes rose above them, green and impassive as they looked out at those so ignorant of the mysteries within the walls they guarded.

Vittoria found herself walking into the viper pit. Though she would silently scold herself, something in the back of her mind rose like a shadow—something that told her she wasn’t necessarily wrong. The Citadel had been better to her than she could have hoped in her formative years. Her father had been good to them. She had been better to them, oftentimes convincing Lord Manfred of their cause in one matter or another during her time in Oldtown.

Things were different now. Her voice came high and sweet today, even as she barely gave any thought to what she said to him in response, it just came on muscle memory: “Port cities are vitally important for the realm and wider creation, Lord Elmo—commerce, trade, art, the exchange of knowledge and news—all far worse without port cities.”

She said it even as she was preoccupied by those around them. Even getting close to the front great doors of the Citadel was a daze of people. She saw Maesters, Acolytes, and Novices. She smiled to a few as they marched past, her mind constantly reminding her body to keep her pace slow and deliberate for him…when all she wanted to do was race inside and get this over with.

“Banners were called, Lord Elmo, some of my father’s banner lords have decided to be defiant under the cover of the Faith, I saw the woman I consider my older sister berated and snapped to rage, and I’ve never wanted to hit a High Septon before.” That was a new impulse in her life, she could attest, not one she had ever had before. Despite the brightness of her voice, the tone under it was unmistakable: Does it sound like the meetings went well?

“Hello,” she offered as passed a group Acolytes and some of the Novices with them beginning to stare as she passed. She was recognized. She wore no armor, but the simple green thin woolen dress which she typically wore under that armor. The green cloak with a golden rose pin could have been a hint, too. When they entered she was met by a Maester that brought an instant smile to her face, “Why hello, MAESTER.”

The title was obviously exaggerated, a new spark of excitement to her as she said it: she knew this man.

“Lady Tyrell, they have been asking for you since your arrival to the city.”

A playful light struck her as her head tilted to the right and her voice lowered just-so, “Lord Elmo, this is MAESTER Theyln.” The man was of medium build, dark hair kept short, and just an inch or so taller than Elmo. His robes looked freshly made, and there was a shine to his chain. Details that made more sense to Lord Elmo as she continued, “Congratulations. When did it happen?”

Theyln’s eyes patterned between Elmo and Vittoria for a moment, before he decided it was safe enough to smile and indulge himself, “A month past.”

“WHAT?” She might have yelled it, but instead kept herself to a Citadel appropriate whisper. He all but blushed at her, “They made you wait that long?”

Theyln’s eyes danced into the air before coming back down to her, “It’s my fault, truly, Lady.”

“…was it Millin?” He shrugged, and nearly let a laugh past his smile to confirm it, “I’m not surprised. Archmaester Millin,” Vittoria began, leaning towards Elmo to explain, “is an Archmaester of the silver link—the healing arts. The nerves are an utter fascination to the man, and be damned the Acolyte who goes to test for his silver link that doesn’t seem as dedicated to the study as he has always been.”

“They really are waiting to see you. So many of them seem…anticipatory. What have you done?”

Vittoria Tyrell grinned, “Me? Tsk, you know of my innocent and obedient nature Theyln.”

“Ah, yes, the girl who was hiding in the library for three days before she was caught stealing food and sleeping in a restricted area she was small enough to sneak past the bars of.” His good nature laugh came again, easy, free.

“I was fine.”

“They couldn’t find the daughter of the Warden of the South!” He might have laughed harder, if not for the appearance of a man through a door to the back and right of the room that he seemed to sense, having a quick look back. An older man, of middling height but impressive broad, muscular, build and a set of robes that seemed a little darker than most.

“Good to see you, Theyln. And make sure you ask for an appointment within the Reach,” she reminded him, before she moved on to the older man, her lips reserved into what might have been a smile once, years ago, “This is—”

The older man just cut in, his voice deeper, gravel, tempered with time and age, “—Elmo, yes, we have heard. Did you bring it?”


The man wore a ring of Valyrian steel, and regarded her carefully, as if her answer unlocked a chain reaction of thoughts and conclusions in his mind, “…smart.” Even his Maester chain, a mix of many various metals, was notable for two Valyrian steel links in the front center.

“What happened to the page I sent, Gerrick?”

His eyes flicked to Elmo, taking a quick measure of the man before the Archmaester dared to respond to the question of Lady Tyrell, “…they did what they always do. Talked a lot. Asked me to verify. How is something like that able to be verified? It seemed outrageous, but…well. Being what it is, of course it’s outrageous. Oh, but ho, worry not, after a fortnight they all agreed the handwriting was yours who did the copying. Where did you find it?”

“Saan, the pirate king, had it. When I went to Volantis, they asked about it.”

His dark blue eyes narrowed, just slightly, and he leaned in closer to her, “They?”

“Their dragonlord.”

His brows perked and one of his hands scratched, absently, at his three day old growth upon his chin. “The Balaerys boy?”

“Oh,” she began, eyes widening, “a boy no longer I assure you.”

He almost looked to frown at that, “We’ve heard. Great warrior, apparently. Poet, too. Not bad, if a little dark and morose for my tastes.”

“…I thought you loved dark and morose?”

He shrugged. “Go, meet with them before the Conclave comes to you. They’ll know you’re here. I will be behind you shortly. I will see Lord Elmo to the Seneschal. Anything I should know?” He asked, looking between them, a question posed to them both, as Vittoria turned and looked at Elmo, letting him take the lead now.
It was his life, after all.

The pale man studied the two Maetser and seemed to glance toward Vittoria’s reaction towards them. Friends of hers, allies, if he had a guess. Laying both hands on his cane, he inclined his head in acknowledgment to both Maesters. The younger of which seemed to have been here and studied with Vittoria. “Only that I am here to learn.” Elmo answered simply, his voice dry as he absently massaged his leg. He had lived with this leg for years, suffering through a few years at the Citadel to forge his chain would be nothing. “My Lady, your aid has been most generous but I fear I would only hinder the business you must attend.” He bowed to Vittoria, a cold smile on his lips and slightly warmer one in his eyes.

“Reach out should I be able to help, Elmo.”

It was the first time, ever, she had addressed him so simply, so informally, with a smile to match as she nodded to the Archmaester and moved past him, through the door in which he came, to face the Conclave of the Citadel and answer their inquiry about ancient Valyrian scrolls that laid out instructions on waking dragons from stone. When she was gone, Gerrick spoke to him, “You will be sore and exhausted from dawn to dusk. You will learn much, especially if you learn to stay silent unless asking a question. Everyone will think you Vittoria Tyrell’s man. Ignore it; it doesn’t matter, true or not. So, then, Novice Elmo…do try to keep up.”

Elmo grimaced and gave a cold smile. "Why Archmaester, that sounds like an average day amongst my family. Shall we continue on, rather than dwaddle here?" His dry and languid tone was in it's classic drawl, but his eyes were sharp as he gestured the man to lead on.
Pentose // @Ezekiel @Vanq

Not since the days of the Conquest had a single city hosted three dragons as great as those which descended on Pentos. Two great beasts, older than the Doom itself, made swift work of the Night air as low light of the Moon marked them out against clear skies. Terrax and Balerion swung around each other, the hot air of Essos allowing easier gliding than the colder climes to the West. For such vast and violent beasts, their riders commanded them with surprisingly gentle subtlety, wordless commands with the reigns causing the former dragon to peel away, steadily gliding lower to the ground well before the city itself. The Pentoshi may have welcomed the Targaryens and their dragons on many an occasion, but an uninvited arrival of the ruler of Volantis was another matter entirely.

The courtyard of the Targaryen manse was lit with blazing torches, identifiable among the affluent outskirts of the city’s hinterland. A design of relevance to the visiting dragonlords, the licking flame identified the presence of another dragon well before Maegor commanded Baelerion to land. A dragon he could pick out from afar as familiar to him as his own steed, that of his mother’s. With a simple Valyrian command, Maegor ushered Balerion towards the from of Vhaegar below, the command for a quiet landing, without the great crescendo of noise that would usually herald two dragons meeting each other. A few moments later and the vast, almost pitch black, form of the dragon touched down. A quiet rumble was all that passed between the two dragons, familiar as they were with each other.

Rather than crouch low, Balerion extended his vast neck upwards to the second level of the manse, allowing Maegor to dismount directly onto the walkways ringing the structure, before the vast beast settled to rest after the long flight, set at the grueling pace of his rider. While Maegor had not spend a great deal of time of his exile simply waiting in Pentos, preferring to journey where the whims of adventure took him, he equally did not wish to linger elsewhere, and in doing so abandon the ability to return to Westeros swiftly. The presence of his mother’s dragon had earned his curiosity, but as far as he was concerned matters of family could wait at least the small hours of the morning.

It was not exhaustion which spurred him to journey first to his bedchamber. Lingering thoughts of bloodshed and victory roared through him, a distracting ache that needed fulfilling. The pain across his hand from the spreading bruise did little to check him, only enflaming the furnace with its constant reminder.
His arrival, while quieter than it could have been, was hardly subtle, and so the guards across the manse were very much aware of the powerful form moving across the manse terrace, but there was little doubt as to his identity even in the darkness. Even among Valyrians he was distinctive, and no other dragons could entirely compete with the unsettling force of Balerion.

With force which echoed the storm within him, Maegor threw open the largely stained glass doorway into the master bedroom, sending a shudder through the chamber soon echoed by the onrushing night air, the moon and star light casting through the chamber as he moved without halting. It was thankful, perhaps, for those present, that Vhandyr had convinced the Prince to hold at least a short while in Volantis to appreciate the gratitude of the city. It had meant Maegor had changed out of the battle plate he had worn, instead in his fine riding leathers emblazoned with his crest. Still, he had ridden almost immediately on dragonback, and so the exotic aroma of Dragonkind clung to him, along with a fainter tang of Fire and Blood. He could sense it himself, and it only further emboldened him.
“Princess, I have returned.” His voice carried through the remainder of the room even as he strode onwards, his eyes adjusting, along with the spreading but soft celestial illumination, to reveal his own chamber. His wife, the second, always enjoyed the reminder that was her true title, and he was not above stoking that font of ego within her. Even so, he paused as he drew close to the foot of the bed, and the tangle of motion that was no doubt that of slumbering figures awakening to the sudden crescendo of noise that was his arrival.
Figures, plural.
In the initial moment, with thoughts of conquest and death lingering across his mind, assumptions were drawn in Maegor’s mind that he might otherwise have dismissed, and sudden thoughts of brutal justice overcame him, the creaking of leather from his closing fist audible over the wind still rattling the terrace doorway. With even greater force than he had entered the chamber, his glove closed around the sheets ot the mattress, simply casting it away without so much as a grunt or snarl. The quiet fury was beginning to rise upon him, and that was an entirely more dangerous beast.
What he saw in the gloom after gave him pause, his senses catching up to the unbidden emotion he was feeling.

“Interesting,” He mused, in a tone quieter than he had spoken before.
The kiss of startling night air had awoken Alys, rather than the arrival of Balerion. So worn had she been after a rather passionate night of lust. She had always known she could endure men, even enjoy them, but women… never had she known that she could enjoy a woman in such a way. There were always the whispers of Prjncess Rhaena, but she had dismissed herself from such nonsense. Now the touch of skilled hands and dark locks had unlocked that. Wooing the woman into the bed.
Awaking to snarl an the chill of the night air even in warm Essos, to find her husband at the foot of her bed? Alys froze her brown eyes soft and wide as she rose to sit upright, dismantling herself from the forbidden embrace sith Tyanna. "My Prince…" She crooned the word in that tone he liked, moving across the bed to him. A hand reaching imploring, pleading him to understand that the woman was a flight of fancy.
He was and always had been her true desire. Even now she could feel that desperate need for his son and heir. She was his chosen bride, the one he wanted. Thinking fleetingly of the potion, she knew there would be no time to get it. Not unless she wished to perhaps raise more questions or risk rousing the dragon of a temper her husband had.
Daring to risk kneeling on the bed before him, she wrapped her arms slowly about his shoulders, drinking in the scent of dragons and smoke. Battle and his steed. "Your mother closed the manse to all coming and going. It has been far too long, husband." Her gaze ran over his face and she drew a hand through his silver hair, enjoying the feel even as she whispered in her soft sultry tone. "I…" She trailed off hesitating as what to say. How to explain, lest he think she enjoy other men as well.
"I had not known, not before this night, and long have I hungered."
She had woken to the sound of a dragon, a sound not unlike when Visenya had arrived. Alys, next two, their limbs entwined, had not stirred. There were only so many possibilities of what this arrival meant and she was a betting woman. She closed her eyes, not to return to restful slumber, but to attune to her other senses. Sight would tell her little.
The entrance managed to startle her anyways, cool night air across her naked limbs sent a shiver down her back. Was it anger that she felt bristling the air, a typical response. And Alys had woken at last. Tyanna slowly sat up, her legs pulled across and beneath her. At least she had managed to bed the woman before her husband's return, even if she would have preferred more time to solidify the woman's affections for her.
She waited for Alys to throw herself at the dragon prince, pathetic. Powerful men, whether in physicality or money, shared enough traits from what Tyanna had seen. She chose the risky path forward, one done with quick calculation of the couple's brief interaction. "Fear not, she chose only a woman to satisfy her when it seemed you could not." Her voice would never be described as sweet, but strong with a seductive lilt her clientele craved.

The heady rush of adrenaline that still coursed through Maegor had returned, driving his actions as Alys drew near, one hand reaching out for her even as she spoke, ready to take the softness of her thin night gown, suitable for the Essosi climate, between his fingers. It was the words of the Pentoshi that brought him back. The pounding of blood through him did not cease, but momentarily the furnace of rage roared again, the whispers of vengeful madness twisting across his mind. Who was she to say such things to him.
But then again, even more simply, who was she? There were those who simply thought him a brute, but they were wrong. They was method to his brutality, the keen sense of those who truly hunt, and in the darkness of her eyes, perhaps there was the same.
"So it would seem." Maegor paced away from the bed, a slow tread of the metal caps within his leather bound boots, made hardy to survive the ravages of dragon riding. The cooler night air still swirled in the room, starlight gleaming off the silver-gold of his hair. He removed his gloves as he did, flexing his fingers. Where he had caught the Dothraki blade in gauntlets hand flared a morass of bruising across his palm, the thudding throb of pain continuing to stir him. His gloves cast simply aside, both hands gripped the rim of a nearby cushioned chair, dragging it slowly back with him, to set it down at the foot of the bed, within which he simply sat. Even lowered so, his towering frame brought him more than even with the women poised on the higher rise of the bed.
"Let us see what you do to my wife that I cannot." While he lent back slightly in their chair, hands steepled together, there was an intensity to his gaze which went beyond simple carnal enjoyment. It spoke the sense that any danger had passed to be a false one, the look of a mountain line who allows its prey to scurry before it finally bites down.

Big men, small men, they were all the same in the end. But even in the low light, Tyanna knew better than to let her brow furrow too much. He had accepted the barb and returned it with lust, she could work with that. It would be easy to give him what he asked, Alys would perhaps warm to it if it meant pleasing her husband, but there were other ways. "I think your wife has had her fill of what I can provide. Perhaps I can instruct you in what to do instead." The courtesan moved to place herself behind Alys, her arms draped over the woman, black tresses pressed against auburn. "Your dearest Princess needs your dragonseed and not just pleasure, no?"
Alys was not pleased in the slightest by the dismal of Maegor as he pulled up a chair, as if he wished for a show. Yet feeling Tyanna at her back, she shuddered at the feel of the woman. A worthy partner in her bed, yet not the one she desired. No, that desire alone was pulled towards Maegor. "What she can give me is only amusement. What is that compared to you? Compared to the joy of bearing your heir? Your son?" She decided to ignore Tyanna's offer. Preferring instead to try and eel her way into Maegor’s lap. To urge him to the bed, or to the activities that would ensure what they both desired.

The intensity of those violet Valyrian eyes only grew in intensity, surrounded by the dark of the night as the Prince studied both women. The express on his face seemingly held somewhere between cold fury and a more insidious curiosity. Steadily one hand moved down towards his belt, but rather than the more predictable of motions, his digits drifted to the side, taking hold of the hilt of his dagger rather than the buckle of the clothing.

Whatever Maegor had meant to do, the train of events were interrupted by the doors bursting open, bright light flooding into the chamber from the more well lit corridors before them. Still in the riding mail-gown she had arrived in, Visenya stood with the light of the fires behind her, the paler tone of her own Valyrian eyes falling first upon her sign, then those on the bed, and back again. A flicker of annoyance passed over her features and the failure of her message to be passed on, but she expected little better.

“How quickly can you be ready to fly? We must return to Dragonstone.” When Visenya spoke, she did so in Valyrian, speaking in the fluid manner of one who spoke it as their first language. It hardly was an assurance of privacy in Essos, but none seemed to speak it in the manner of the true Dragonlords.

“Mother, I am entertaining two interesting women, can this not wait?” Despite the retort, he leaned back further in his seat in interest at her words, the fingers slipping from his dagger.

“Your father always managed both.” Visenya snorted in contempt, her eyes falling back on the bed once more, before a more stern expression descended on her features. “You may have heard of your nephew’s murder, your brother has passed beyond as well, from his illness.” While the event had brought her grief in of itself, now she was as emotionless as the cold valyrian steel at her belt.

That had Maegor on his feet, the previous balance between chaos and restraint shattered at the news. The back of his chair was caught in one hand and thrown in the same motion, smashing and splintering against the wall disconcertingly close to the unmoving form of Visenya. The snarl that had failed to materialize at the sight of his wife abed with another now ripped from his lips.

“The progress Aenys made the Prince and Princess attend to, they were held up by dissidents in the Westerlands, Aegon did not survive the wounds he received in the attack,” Visenya spoke calmly, even in the face of Maegor’s rage. She was tall for a woman, but still his hulking form seemed to tower next to her.

“Dissidents? Aegon was killed by rabble!?” Somehow the Prince’s voice seemed both a deadly whisper and to rebound around the room. The Dowager Queen shrugged her shoulders in return.

“They did not have their dragons.” With that Visenya took a step forwards, placing a hand atop her son’s chest, not a warm gesture of affection, but instead grounding them together. “There will be vengeance, Maegor, but I need you to return with me if we are to achieve it. No one else is strong enough, there is only us.” She paused for a moment, allowing a few stinging motes of sadness to pool in her eyes, “Or two won’t be all they take.”

Maegor’s form seemed to ease, pacing away from his mother, but still only addressing her as he continued to reply in Valyrian. “Did my brother call me back on his death? Some last effort that I might resolve his mess lest it consume his son?”

“No, he asked me directly, but not for you.” Her voice did not hitch or halt at all, even if the words seemed to give Maegor pause, a dismissive grunt passing his lips that was perhaps the closest thing such a man would get to a sigh of sorrow. “I am not here to bring you home and languish as your infant Nephew’s hand.”

Maegor turned back to face her once more, as Visenya pulled her hands free from her cloak, holding between them a circlet of black Valyrian steel, studded with blood red ruby gemstones. Finally, when she spoke again, she did so in the common tongue.

“I am here to bring Westeros its new King.”

King's Landing was a a mud hole.an interesting mud hole to be sure, but sat between the three crowning hills the shit of human existence collected neatly at the bottom. Jeyne had been less than pleased that her father thought appearing in King's Landing to discuss some trade deals was a good chance to drag herself and her sister with him to show them to potential suitors. Hanna had been over the moon about it, hoping as she always did for a wealthy young lord of some rank. Their sister had married high, how could she not? It irked Jeyne who had no thought of marriage. There was so much wonder jn the world and she wanted adventures like their older brother Damon had.

Which had led her to avoiding her lessons just in time to see the most beautiful creature winging over the capital. A dragon that put any other to same with blue shadings of some sort she couldn't name. Unlike her sister, Jeyne only cared enough with thread and needle to please their mother, not to natter at it all day. Her feet scrambled down the steps and into the street. Dressed in clothing she had bullied a young servant out of, she thought she made a passing lad. Never minding no lad was so clean as she and her brown tresses stuck out from under the cap she had tucked them under. It was an old trick of hers when she wanted to go back to her days as a child in the town, not then a young lady of Harrenhal. Soon she was dodging down streets following the talk of 'dragon woman' and the whispers of Valyrian either in awe or curses. It took her far longer than she would have thought, her boots dusted by mud and dung and other things that rotten in the foul streets. She hardly paid attention, after ducking behind a stall and glaring at the peasant woman who protested her being there. "Why would I steal your wares?" She snapped scornful of the rags hung about. As she peered after the woman dressed as a man with a sword at her side and boots so elegant and tall. Jeyne wanted boots like that. Her fingers itched as she began to follow the woman. To her, she was a shadow. But to all else she was as obvious as if Vaera had brought her dragon behind her. Pots clattered, she argued with vendors, and insulted a browsing pig that wondered the streets after it stepped on her foot

In no way, at all, was the ‘master spy’ behind Vaera her concern. Around every corner she turned there were just more of the bloody gnats—in brown roughspun, with little more than metal sticks and rope about them to do any kind of threatening with. Not that they did any outward threatening to her. Instead, their dark glances gave away their intent, and she found none of them filled with the warm light of love so many gods promised.
Her own gods numbered a thousand, and the history and stories passed down to her, that she would further pass on to her siblings, was that no one gave a damn if you adhered to this god or that god. It was your choice, in the Freehold of Valyria. The only thing that mattered was power and influence and wealth. She knew of the Targaryens that abandoned Valyria, selling everything in exchange for Dragonstone and enough to bring some of their hangers-on along, namely Velaryon and Celtigar, but there were a few others, too.

Westeros was not, at all, the Lands of Always Summer. It wasn’t close to the Freehold, in more ways than she could rightly count just by glancing around. To start with, their capital, this King’s Landing, was little more than a war camp that had overdeveloped and overgrown without so much as a single plan for the city’s growth. It was a sprawling, stupid, mess. Each of the three hills, she learned talking to a merchant of tiles, was named after the King and his Sister-Wives: Aegon, Visenya, and Rhaenys. Aegon’s Hill was the taller, where she landed Caeryx.

The big temple, ‘sept’ she was corrected by the merchant, was the Sept of Remembrance, and it was Rhaenys’ Hill. What she thought had been another temple, that was actually a little fortified manse compound, was Visenya’s Hill. That hill, not the hill with stones and stilts being turned into a castle, was where the King had lived until most recently. For the hundredth time since landing, Vaera of House Balaerys was glad to have been born and raised in Volantis, despite the things about the city she had started to dislike, which oddly measured up with the things her brother hated about the place.

At a wine merchant, where she purchased a skin of something strong and red, she learned the gnats had a proper name: The Poor Fellows. What’s worse, those she assumed had been some kind of heavily armored watch of the city were not at all…they were Knights of an Order sworn to the Faith: The Faith Militant. Or as some of the common folk had called them, the Stars and the Swords. Too many of them looked at her with darkened gazes, adding a tension that she hadn’t been expecting.

Maegor is either a fool, uninformed, or both.

She had to send word to Vhandyr, was her thought, when her spine froze at the sharp sound of a squeal…until she realized it was a pig, followed by the cursings of the master spy that had been following her for a little bit of time, now. The presence of the gnats and a few of the silver, shiny, Faith knights kept her from pulling a dagger and killing the fool girl…though in truth, she likely wouldn’t have, anyway.
But it added restraint as she sighed, turned sharper on her heel to turn around than most dancers could muster,
and leveled her lilac eyes on the girl as she quickly closed to the distance between them.


The girl seemed to turn this way, that way, somehow certain the dragonrider wasn’t talking to her. Though she only occasionally shouted, there was dragon fire in the eyes of the Valyrian dragonrider as she got loud, and confronted the girl.

“Yes, fool girl, YOU. Shall we draw steel and have our contest for life here and now? The only reason I can imagine being followed in such a way is if you’re an assassin, or a spy, and both are not but enemies to me at this moment SO YOU TELL ME…which is it?”

The shout had caught Jeyne off guard. Surely it could not be her to be so scorned, but oh it was. The woman called her assassin and spy, both which made her pleased even as she squirmed at the unwarranted shouting and anger that was being directed at her. "I? Neither!" Her voice was sharp with alarm and offended dignity. "I just- I saw you fly over and…" This was not going how it was supposed to at all and Jeyne knew she was blushing as she fumbled for something, anything to say. "It was astounding." She finished lamely, knowing it could not give full meaning to what she felt to see that living jewel. "Why would I spy or try to… You have a sword!" She pointed out, that quite correctly Vaera indeed has a sword and the upper hand.

A sweet smile came over the pretty features of the Valyrian dragonrider, her voice dipped itself in honey, and lowered its volume as she grew closer to the girl, and closer to the girl, until she was a dagger’s distance away. The height of the dragonrider neared six feet, prompting her to lean down in order to get closer to the girl still, enough that they neared something close to eye-level.

Vaera could smell the fear. The girl would smell a hint of brimstone and jasmine; which belonged to the dragon, and which the rider seemed obvious enough. “I’ve killed enough men and women to lose count. I’ve flown so far that I’ve seen parts of creation that no other living soul can claim to have seen. Do you want to know what the demons of Sothoryos look like? Can you imagine how shadows whisper in the mountain passes of Asshai?”
She moved, but not away, if anything somehow she achieved the impossible of getting closer as their shoulders brushed, Vaera Balaerys encircling the girl like a predator in the dark, cutting steely glances to the bustle of bodies around in the street that were beginning to stop and look, the icy shock of her voice no more than a whisper, sneaking in from behind, her lips close enough to the girl’s ear to touch, “You’re too clean for those rags you’re wearing, you have the subtlety of a zorse, and you have made a spectacle of me in a city that doesn’t seem to like those like me very much. I should tie you to a bed and…”

Vaera paused, and let the single, small, sigh escape, rounding back before the girl, not facing her, but keeping her to the left of her body. The tone had changed; honey had dripped away to reveal Valyrian steel: “You shouldn’t be out without escort, you never know the types of people you might run into on the muddy streets of such a place.”

Lilac eyes cut left, catching the girl’s eyes, “I’m sorry your life is stuck in a pious, gilded, cage. Pray to the Valyrian gods your next life is kinder to you. Your gods,” she said, lilac eyes drifting around those looking on, “seem as dense as they do cruel,” words finished with a chuckle.

Jeyne was trapped in horror as the Valyrian woman looked her in the eye and spoke of what she had seen and tying the young Harroway to a bed. Those thoughts made the young noblewoman quiver in concern. Her mother had always been clear about what awaited a despoiled daughter. A daughter made useless and sullied. “I’m not stuck!” Jeyne protested with a stubborn thrust of her chin, her eyes flashing as she gave a challenging look to Vaera, awe for the woman still on her face. “I can do whatever I please, escort or no!” Though she did recall how correct this woman was that she should have a guard, and she had slipped from the halls of the nobles and king to avoid just that.

A hand, slim and long-fingered, gripped Jeyne’s shoulder as a third woman with a guard in the black and orange livery of Harroway joined the pair. Giving a deep curtsey to the sword-toting woman, the silver-haired newcomer was dressing in clothing that had seen better days and was slightly out of fashion. Her curling silver locks framed a gentle face with sea eyes that turned on the youngest of the group. “Lady Jeyne, your lady mother is searching the halls for you, it would be best to return.” Her voice was meek, mild, as she entreated the youth to return to her rightful place. Endless patience that explained this had happened before. “My Lady, I apologize for any trouble that might have been caused.” Elayne, was oblivious to the origins of Vaera and with reason. The woman, so armored and so clearly Valyrian was most likely Targaryen and thus of the ruling House of Westeros. It would not be wise to raise their ire, even if their sister was married to the brother of King Aenys. “Please, my Lady, your mother will worry about you.” She turned her attention back to Jeyne, concern and worry in her face.

“I am talking with her.” Jeyne protested, her eyes flashing with annoyance at this interruption. “You know not to interrupt your betters. Mother will be furious!”

“Yes, she was busy showing me how she can do whatever she pleases.”

Vaera barely got the words out before her elbows were brought closer to her sides, her hands clasping as her waist nearly bent at the sheer depth and width of laughter that overtook her in that moment. She was still mid-laugh when she saw the guard, and held up a single index finger at him, a motion to come no closer.
“This is funny enough without my getting a giggle out of how fast my Valyrian steel would cut through your armor, flesh, and bone.” The man-at-arms seemed to only see getting laughed at. She noticed a puff of his chest and set of his eyes. In a second, her laughter was gone and her body straight as a steel blade. Fire seemed to set her lilac eyes ablaze as she pointed right at the man. “…I will not fucking warn you again. STAY.”

Her eyes pivoted, finding the girls yapping at each other. Finding the first girl, and narrowing her gaze, as the volume of her voice dropped. “Gods, has the Freehold been gone so long? Look at her.” One step and she was behind the sneak and the spy wearing clothes that barely fit her, let alone hid her. Vaera didn’t touch the girl. Yet, all the same, the girl seemed to know better than to so much as twitch without Vaera’s leave. “That is Valyrian blood,” she began, pointing at the other girl. “Do you see it? My dragon would eat you like a snack without me with you. Her? Because of that blood she would at least have a chance. You cannot IMAGINE the power in that blood. Betters?!”

The moment she heard the noise beside and behind her, the sword was out: the blade was dark, hints of blue and green lapping with the dark blackness that seemed to simply contain the magical steel of the blade along the edges. It seemed, in her hand, lighter than a feather, the guard’s eyes immediately drawn to it and the way the color in the steel seemed to dapple and darken even as the sun of the day hit it. In a beat of her heart the blade was drawn and it’s point nearly at the man’s chest.

“I. Warned. You.” Staring at the guard she could kill with a flick of her wrist, she spoke now to the other girl, the new girl, the one who ought to mind her ‘betters.’ “Valyrian girl apparently worth nothing to these people—this guard, here. Is he a good man to YOU? Not to anyone else, but TO YOU?”

Jeyne had a look of alarm on her face, her brown eyes huge as she hesitated on taking a step away from the woman. Yet she couldn’t help the protest that slipped from her lips, despite seeing how quick the woman was with her sword. “But she’s only a bastard! A Rivers. So what if she has some special blood, it’s not like she’s my father’s bastard- at least then she might be useful.”

The older maid flinched at the words it was subtle. Something she had learned to hide, but she cringed either way. Hesitating, she stepped delicately forward and gently laid a hand on Vaera’s sword arm. “Please, My Lady. You draw a scene and infringe upon your image. Lady Jeyne is but a girl, though she is correct in her words. Though I am Valyrian on my father’s side through his father, I am a Rivers. It is naught but truth.” Her hand quickly fell away and her gaze was fastened low as she shivered at her own daring. “Please, don’t injure our guard. It would only earn the ire of our Lord for this scene and bring his wrath on all of us.” A pleading note entered her voice as it shook slightly. “Lady Targaryen, I urge you if there is a problem, please take it up with Lord Lucas Harroway.”

“Two noble Houses survived the Doom; Targaryen, and Balaerys. One rules your Seven Kingdoms, the other the last outpost of Old Valayria; Volantis.” Her voice shifted like the color of her blade, instant and in strange ways, this time becoming more that of a tutor teaching a lesson. The blade dropped, it’s length replaced in it’s scabbard with a motion so easy it looked like she might, actually, literally, do it in her sleep.

This time, smiling, she repeated herself to the guard: “Do. Not. Move.” Finally, to the man’s visible relief, her eyes moved away from him and to the ‘Rivers’ girl. “How did you come to be born, girl? The full story.”
It was a relief to the group that Vaera had relaxed to sheath her sword. Yet it was her question that caused Elayne to truly shrink within herself. Her eyes turned haunted and Jeyne flinched. It was not tale either girl liked to know, hear or tell. “You are aware of the Westrosi’s Right to the First Night?’ Elayne’s voice was barely more than a whisper as her gaze fastened on her slippered feet. “The Lord of Harrenhal at the time was Gargon Qoherys, he claimed the Lady Catelyn from then Ser Harroway as was his right. I was born of that result.”

“A stain on mother’s honor and father’s. Mother should have drank moon tea.” Jeyne sneered, her eyes snapping as her temper came up to be her shield against the shadow between her parents. “So you’re a Balaerys then? Come to wed one of the Targaryen Princes?”

Her face twisted, as if she had caught a whiff of the worse smell known to men and beast, “Marry a…? No. Be serious, child. Only a fool would marry into that ruin.” Her head shook, her fine Valyrian features still looking confused, even as she shook away the stench of the question posed. Everything changed in the woman. Her posture, the intensity. When she looked back at the girl, there was sadness in her light purple irises. “Qoherys were always high on ambition and low on much else…hey.”

Vaera called out with a careful, measured, tone. The same gloved hand that a minute before held Ascendant now delicately touched fingertips in impossibly soft leather to the chin of the Qoherys spawn, and raised that face until she could see that girl’s eyes. “I’m sorry, girl. Lord Gargon was a monster, but sometimes we come from

You should hear some of the stories of my House.

Vaera let go, her eyes looking around once more. The crowd was thicker. The pious fucks looked confused. She liked that, enough for a tiny little chuckle to escape her body as a snort might, “Lord Lucas, you said? Yes. I think I, or my brother, ought to have a chat with this man. And you?” She turned back to the brat, “you live in Harrenhal. You see the wraith of dragonriders every day of your life, and yet this is how you act? Be glad I
don’t take you with me. What are your names?”

She twisted her body, and her neck, to smile at the guard. “You too, M’Lord.”

The Valyrian whelp froze as she felt fingers pull her chin up to look into violet eyes. Shivering, Elayne blinked owlishly in confusion. Yes, the man who had sired her had been a monster, she heard the whispers of the maids and saw the glares cast her way. She had been branded his bastard from the day she was born. Scorned for wrongs she had never committed and never could commit on her own sex. When Vaera let go, Elayne let her gaze fall to the ground once more, though she did not move away. She couldn’t move. Her feet felt frozen as she longed to disappear from the crowd gathering about them.

Jeyne for her part was quite furious, but she had the sense to remain polite. Her gaze lowering at the mention of the fire that had ruined Harrenhal not so long ago. Still her chin was strong and proud as she kept it raised and her shoulders firm. “Lady Jeyne Harroway, I am. That bastard, is Elayne Rivers, and the guard…” She paused as the man gruffly added. “Thom Cooper.” The young lady repeated such. “And our sister is wife to Prince Maegor.” She declared proudly, ignoring Elayne’s flinch or the loud whispers of the ‘whore of Harroway’, ‘Maegor’s whore’ around them.

“Maegor? The one with Balerion, warring against Dothraki victims with my brother?” Her head snapped to the peasants of Faith and poor clothing choices with even poorer weapons as she heard their loud ‘whispers’. Vaera’s face illuminated with understanding, and something that bordered on pure joy, “Aaah, that’s why Maegor is in Essos. I didn’t care to listen as he explained it. How long until your sister is thrown away like his first wife?”

Vaera asked, starring so deep into Jeyne’s eyes that she might have seen a hint of the girl’s soul. “Be seeing you again, girl.” Vaera couldn’t have denied her grin even if she wanted, her body backing up and turning on a heel as she simply walked away. With blood hot and stomach angrier now, Vaera had an idea of where she needed to go now. Somewhere fool girls wouldn’t follow.

Elayne Rivers, the Ghost of Harrenhal
The bitter wind off the God's Eye carried the hint of a storm as it whipped about the ruins towers that Harren the Black had once speared the sky. Now they stood like melted candles. Dragon fire had melted stone, seared flesh, and burned all within. It had not even been half a century later that life had come back to those haunted halls where ghosts still walked. Ghosts did walk them, those of regret and past pains. The soft music filtered through the heavy oaken door that led into the solar of Lady Catelyn Harroway, the wife of the Lord of Harrenhal.

Her mother.

Not that she could call the woman such, Elayne had learned that quickly as a child under the woman's switch. Though she was of noble blood on both sides, a child born out of wedlock was nothing but a burden. A bastard. One of the many Rivers that dwelled in the Riverlands. Her footsteps were quiet as she carried the basket of cloth to the laundry for the maids. Rightly she should have been in the solar, at needlework or mending for her mother and sisters, but the minstrel had been doting upon her and in response, Lady Catelyn had banished her from the room.

Dressed in the cast off from Alys, Elayne had taken in the form to fit herself better, but the skirt of the gown still bared too much of her ankle to be seemly with Alys being a tad shorter than the slightly younger woman. Perhaps it was her lot in life, a tool to the Harroways. The ever-loyal, ever-scorned servant. She didn't want it. Not really, but what choice was there? There was no life for her outside of the generosity of her mother and the Harroways, so she would make the best of it. Even if the best of them had been sent away. For all his bluntness and sharp words, Elmo had been the kindness in the last two years, along with his aunt Minisa

Minisa, Elayne considered the woman. The fragile Butterwell woman had turned into a ghost herself after the birth of her son, Alton. The boy seemed to grow stronger while his mother grew weaker. Minisa had nothing but scorn from the nobility, her husband was often gone over sea and it was common knowledge among family and servants alike that he was hardly faithful to her. A few servants had dallied with the second son of Lucas. Elayne, herself, had narrowly avoided the man when he was drunk and looking for someone to join him when Minisa had been heavy with child. Her lips thinned as she recalled their last encounter.

The wall at her back was cold and the thunder boomed outside, the man who cornered her in the stairway had the stink of wine on his breath and the flush of a drunk across his cheeks. His nose pressed against her neck and Elayne pushed at his chest, cringing at having to touch the man. "Ser, you are drunk." She had whispered, desperate to find some escape. This was not the first time he had cornered her drunk, but this was one of the worst. There was no Elmo to distract his uncle, nor was her mother around to scold her for his actions. Terror and fear coursed through her veins. If she was not so aware that she stood no chance. Elayne would have slapped the man.

"Not yet." His husky voice, roughened by shouts at sea, washed over her shoulder as he press an unwanted kiss there. Her skin prickled in an eerie way. "Stop it, girl." He growled as she tried to pull away, one of his large hands wrapping about her waist. "I would not ruin an investment." That was worse than his touch, and Elayne wanted to weep hearing it. "After all, there are plenty in Essos who like a beautiful maiden of Valyrian blood, no matter how diluted." The sneer in his voice was audible and the woman sighed in relief as she felt him pull back. A small respite before a hand fastened about her neck. "The Lyseni would pay well to display you in one of their Houses, perhaps even in Elyria I might find a good price? Volantis?"

"Ser," She dared not call him Damon, it would only earn her worse if he took it badly. Which, given Damon's state, he would. "Your Lord-Father="

"He wouldn't lift a finger." She was pulled to her tip-toes as she felt the man tilt her chin up, those cruel dark eyes looking amused. Like a cat playing with a terrified mouse who knew there was no escape. "For a bastard from his lawfully married wife? It would solve the problem of your embarrassment." She was shaking, it could have been cold or fear. Then she felt him release her and Elayne stumbled, falling to the stones. Damon's steps moving away as he called back over his shoulder. "Take care of yourself, dear sister. I have every intent of finding you a worthy husband." It had been long seconds before she stood from the floor, feeling bruises forming on her delicate skin. It had been long hours more she had emerged again after sequestering herself in a small cubby, left from the original building for some unknown purpose that most seemed to have forgotten about, her eyes red from weeping. For Damon would be as good as his words. She would have a husband and it would be to Damon's benefit, even if he had to steal her away from a lawfully wedded Lord in Westeros.

Drawing herself away from memory as one of the muscled laundry women pulled the basket from her hands, Elayne said nothing to the sourfaced woman. Turning instead to go about her tasks, things that could not leave her mind idle. Action would force that dreadful promise away. Yet, she still felt its shadow haunt her just as the remains of soot seared in stone, a few looking too much like human figures when the candles flickered late at night, haunted the melted castle.

The courtship she had seen had not been sheltered. Though she had been kept mostly to Harrenhal Castle, ignorant of the rest of the world, Elayne had listened to the talk. The whisperings kept the walls from crumbling in on them. She was aware of what went on, just as she was aware that the servants saw her as untouchable. The noble among them. The Harroway family saw her as a bastard. Cast out of both worlds, kept to herself. Elayne immersed herself in books when she could. Languishing away when there was only mending that a noble lady could do, yet unable to enjoy the full pleasures of a noblewoman for Lady Catelyn would not allow her to entrance, as the Lady-Mother had put it once, the local minstrels.

Plucking a basket of her own mending to do, an embroidery that Hanna wanted for a gown, the silver-haired maiden moved to settle against the narrow window that opened into her cell-like room. A bed, a small chest, and table. Her fingers flicked the needle in and out as her eyes scanned one of the books that Elmo had recommended to her. It was about herbs and their different properties, something she might find useful if she ever was in need. A stab of pain lanced through Elayne's heart as she recalled the eldest of Lord Lucas's grandsons. Though a cripple, Elmo had been sharp of mind and had taught her what he had read. Be that a smattering of languages, herbs, medicines, or poisons. It had been she who had brought Elmo the herbs he needed and helped him to brew the concentrated forms he desired. A small blessing the Maester was a tight-lipped man who seemed to have some small amount of favor towards her.

Turning the page, she settled against the tapestry at her back. Turning her mind to the task and reading at hand. It would not do to dwell. Life never went backward, the river ever ran towards the sea. Just so, what would come, would be and she could only endure it.

House Lothston & House Blackwood

The tournament was set to begin, the noble guests that were expected had arrived on time. Lord Quentyn Blackwood stared in resigned silence at the black dragon on red that flapped high on a pole in the distance. Dressed in padded quilting, he looked as a lord should who was set to be merry and to take part in the tournament. In truth, he would have rathered not jousted. There was a point to be made, however, all the Blackwoods were fine and fit warriors. Robert was keeping himself from most of the dealings, but his second son was more a bookish sort and no less a fighter for it. Not turning to greet the man who paused beside him. “You are a fool Manfryd.” His voice was gruff as a breeze raised flags and swept through the scents of hundreds of campfires, cooking, cleaning, and the smell of shit. His cousin by marriage was full of the latter. “Arranging to marry Danelle to a Redwyne boy.”

“It was acceptable to both and I wanted the girl married before the year was out.” The reply was gruff as the Lord of Harrenhal crossed his arms over his tunic. Servants took a berth around the two lords. Some slowed, others speeding on whether they wished to risk overhearing a word. Most did not after both lords fingered the hilts of swords and fixed harsh stares about them. Perhaps the conversation would be better in the privacy of tents and their camps. But the meeting here was out of the reach of sons and daughters alike. “That they have a potential son for Elayne as well hardly hurts. Though I have other hopes.”

“Hopes.” The word was a bark of harsh laughter, as the Lord of Raventree grimaced. “Your hopes lie in that the Prince will take her for wife. A young lad taking a woman he fancies? Possible, but your hatred of the Targaryens is well known after King Aegon, may he rest in peace, took your mother and sister as whores.” Ignoring the snarl on the other lord’s face Quentyn continued. “The boy will likely marry either his twin or a daughter of a Lord higher and with more family prestige than you.” It was harsh but true. The only times Quentyn knew of Targaryens marrying outside of the family for future Queens had been Houses of note. The Hightowers, the Martells, Valeryons, Arryn. Though the last had been a cousin through the mother. Viserys, the father of Aegon, had married a Lyseni woman. Though the King had thought to have been dead through most of the Dance. “Peace. Manfryd, I want what is best for your daughters just as you do. They are Calera’s children.”

That hardly seemed to quell Manfryd, though he did take his hand from his sword. “They are my children and I will do as is best for them.” A gruff reply and Quentyn could hardly blame the man. Manfryd’s pride had always been a touchy thing and he cared deeply. Though he could hardly show it, it just was not in the man. Not since Calera had died.

“Dammit, man. What’s best for them is for you to let me foster Elayne.” His irritation with the Lord of Harrenhal was taking over and Quentyn knew it. Manfryd bred fine mules and wonder he did not provide the place of the ass himself! “You do her no favors allowing her to remain in Harrenhal where you host no one but bats and shadows!” Slapping his gloves against his thigh, he considered his argument and sighed. “Manfryd, Danelle is as stern as stone. A fine heir for Harrenhal.” As fine as a woman could be. The girl had approached him asking if he found her fine enough for Harrenhal. He had, she would rule the land well. She had wanted assurance that if cousins came to call and claim the seat of House Lothston after her father passed, the Lord of Raventree would aid her. Hell, the girl had hinted that her father would be better off dead. Encouraging thoughts as to an accident.

Not that he could say as much to the man before him. Manfryd did not care for Danelle. He found his daughter a suitable heir but difficult to deal with. Like a falcon that could savage you or fly away with a prize at any moment, Melissa had mentioned in passing. An apt comparison. Elayne was a sweet girl and would not do well under Danelle’s hand when the elder sister became Lady of Harrenhal. Manfryd was playing a dangerous game and Quentyn wanted to make sure that at least one of Calera’s daughters had a shot at a happy life. He knew the husband of his cousin was speaking loudly against the Targaryens and if the Lord of Harrenhal was eager for the whispers that the Blackfires were the true dragons… It would not surprise Quentyn.

“Manfryd.” He decided to play on a cruel nerve and continued carefully on the path of diplomacy. “Melissa is at Raventree and I can think of no better woman to find Elayne a match worthy of her.”

“One of Aegon’s-”

“Mistresses.” He interrupted the snarl and continued over the protest. “You well know how highly Calera thought of Melissa despite that. You know very well the two were close as blood sisters. For the love you still bear your wife, will you not at least take it into consideration? Bennifer’s wife just had a son as well. It would only benefit Elayne to be around a newborn child as well so she will be better prepared when the time comes or do you mean to send her with a caretaker when a husband means to take her?”

That seemed to cause the other lord to pause and he seemed to muse on the topic. The flow of people thinned and thickened. Servants hauling food, drink, and laundry about. Buckets and trinkets and tokens. Squires with weapons and armor. Shields of many different hedge knights bobbing as they made their way through the tourney’s roads. Sidestepping a horse and cart of wine, the two lords were tucked off at the side of the throng and Quentyn was about to give things up for a lost cause for the day and take up the litany at another time.

“Let us speak of this over wine. Perhaps you could convince me better with some arbor red in me.” Quentyn’s lips curved as he took the opening. That Manfryd was willing to offer him wine that would cost him something to buy said only positive things.
Collab with @Ruby

Aelor & Aelora Targaryen | | Manfryd, Danelle & Elayne Lothston

The chair was old, but her lavender eyes judged it firm enough for her, even sitting with something resembling confidence in the seat after a thorough dust off in the cellars of Summerhall, quiet spaces with not but an ever-present chill to the air and the scent of damp dustiness as numerous as the cobwebs. Brushing off her hands before flipping white hair as safely behind her ear as she could get, readjusting in the chair with a repressed sigh even as the figure shouldered into the small space.

And it was a small space; besides the chair in which she sat, there was a chair with no back and a profound wobble, a square of wood and four pegs that maybe, if you were both destitute and desperate could be used as a table. The visitor smelled of the road, sweat and dirt, bidding she forgive his current state as he entered with his near-nasaly pitch.

The man was average, at best, in everything: height, weight, appearance, voice…but none of it seemed like an accident. An utterly average man rarely stands out, and is even more rarely recalled even by those who might have seen their face before. “Did you enjoy the finds?”

“I did, thank you,” Instinct brought a small, polite, smile to her mouth as she thanked the man. The books were rare, and highly insightful so far, though Aelora hadn’t gotten so spend as much time as she would have liked with them yet. “Any words from you?”

She had never seen him closely shaved, she realized, as he looked down at the sitting Princess, his eyes clouding from the thoughts at work behind them before he nodded his head, finally, and answered, “Yes. I do appreciate the purse, Princess, it certainly never hurts the efforts. Uh, as to those efforts…several noteworthy bits.”

The tone was somewhere between concern and joy, and, frankly, just left Aelora a little confused until he provided further depth: “The comings and goings of your bloodline, Princess, especially those upon the fringe…best to be watchful. Blackfyres and those with attachments.” She nodded, solemn, understanding, before he went on, “The Reach is so bountiful, how could those within be expected to not want more? Potentially problematic. The North bleeds, and a cousin of yours freezes.”

Her head tilted. The Reach followed mostly what she had heard before; that there was an unusually high amount of muttering between the Bannerlords. The North, though? A cousin? Of hers? The only one that…”Princess Saeria?”

The spy nodded, and Aelora’s face brightened. Half the time Aelora thought the man just made up the stories of Saeria. The other half the stories just made her feel as if her own life had been all but wasted within the walls of the Red Keep. “She was supposed to be here. She was supposed in King’s Landing—instead she gets drunk and decides to purchase passage to White Harbor. She nearly died the first fortnight she was there, nearly freezing to death before being helped by a commoner.”

“…who told your people all of this for exchange for a gold piece.”

The man’s very average, non-distinctive nose wrinkled with amusement, “My Princess, that you believe that is the price paid to such lowborn says much and more about you.”

Lavender eyes narrowed at the man, but she pushed it aside and focused, shrugging, “Saeria is madness and glory in equal measure, but above all is a wild thing. She’ll be fine.” Aelora had met the cousin twice; once she entertained herself at a feast seated next to Aelora by playing with a dagger all evening, going to bed early. The second was years later and Saeria never made it to the feast; Aelora ran into her leaving the Feast for bed. She’d been climbing the Red Keep most the day and expressed sadness Maegor’s was so separated from the rest of the Red Keep as they met and talked on the drawbridge. “And you save the best for last, so?”
“Avoid visiting any Westerland camps.”

Aelora blinked, “More Bannerlord muttering?”

His round head shook, the shadow of what was becoming a second chin exaggerated with the angle his face took as he looked at her in a sterner gaze. “Assassination. Sourced from our own shores, no Faceless Men but skilled if unpolished killers in that guild all the same.”

“How?” Poison was a worry of any noble, there was always a reason you could talk yourself into believing for someone to poison you. Or not you; Aelora lost count of how many stories she had heard from old noble ladies of poisonings that killed someone they weren’t intended for.

“Who can know, Princess?”

Her face twisted, “I should hope each golden coin helps you know more and more. If a Lord of Casterly Rock is threatened I would hope to know something more than that.”

His pause was profound, but not cruel, since Aelora knew when her measure was being taken. When he did respond, it was gently, “You wish to intervene. You wish to know enough to prevent. You wish to help. This is admirable, Princess, as admirable as thinking a gold coin for a commoner’s tale a fair price. This will not be stopped, they will die. Yet take comfort; it’s no Lord of Casterly Rock, but a minor Lannister branch that is the unfortunate dead soul.”

More was said, but it all just seemed to twist and dance in her mind like smoke caught in the wind. He offered guardsmen and cooks and the like, but her head shook, as she simply didn’t care. He knew her rule: either people were getting hurt that might not deserve it, or family, or large matters of the realm. Aelora hated most of all that he was right:

She wanted to help. She wanted to intervene. And, as admitted to herself, she had been embarrassed. Too naïve to know the price of a payoff. She would have snorted in anger, stubbornly diving into the shadows of Shadowblack Lane to learn this harsh reality that the spy found adorable she was so ignorant of.
But she was a princess in a palace, and now wasn’t the time. Yet the thought never left her, even as she stopped by the kitchens on her way and talked to Luci and Stoffer. Ducks roasted in lemon and honey, mutton cooked in a thick broth of ale and onions, baked apples with sharp yellow cheese, salads of turnip greens, red fennel, blue cheese, pine nuts, and sweetgrass. Honeycakes baked with blackberries and berry tarts rounded out the meal. Aelora would admit it was meager, but Aelora was undoubtedly the chief food taster in the Red Keep, spending so much of her youth with the stewards of the Red Keep, learning the importance of being lord commander of a host of servants and cooks, men and women, stores and inventories.

She was harder than most to impress.

The hardest detail to smooth out was the location. The Palace was madness, every usual spot taken by a pre existing commitment to hosting Lords and Ladies. Or it would have been difficult, had Aelor not apparently solved the issue with uncle earlier in the yards, practicing for the tournament. According to Aelor the older Prince stared, shrugged, and told him to pick whichever room he wanted that wasn’t chosen. It was exciting only because it meant a rarely used site; both because it was never necessary and because even when it was it was rarely allowed. All in all, the Great Library wasn’t a bad spot.

He was dressed in black tunic and breeches and boots, chest sporting a red Targaryen dragon in large cut ruby, trails of fire along shoulders and down the sides of his boots in matching ruby red. While she dressed, he would see to the rest of it, parting with her outside the kitchens with a quick hug. He even managed to find the Lady that Aelora had sent for clothing for Elayne, and directed her to the right place with hours to spare.

Most of what was left for him was sitting in the Great Library and having a drink as he read a book about old battles by a Maester long dead to time. It was Helene, the Lady from before, that came in after the table was brought in, candles were lit, and most of the table was already set. Helene was from a House close to King’s Landing, though which, at the moment, he could not recall. There had been drama between Lady Samatha of House Rykker, Aelora’s last Lady in Waiting, and…closest friend? Former closest friend? Former friend? It wasn’t in Aelor’s nature to pry when Aelora was clearly disturbed, and whatever had happened, Aelora had wanted nothing to do with taking him through it. She had just wanted him to hug her during the fallout.

“She used your room, we dressed her, she’s ready and awaiting you, my Prince.”

It was dry, distant, however polite the words the girl used. Aelor had no history of grabbing any of Aelora’s ladies and hauling them off, and Aelora never did say anything to any of her Ladies, but they all acted the same way about them: either at odds, or vowed to silence. Lady Samatha once explained it was because, while no one said it, all the Ladies knew: Aelor and Aelora were all but betrothed.

A dreadful thought in some ways, but it explained why they treated him so politely, so coldly. It wasn’t fear of him, or fear of her, it was fear of them—of intruding, of doing something that would get in the way of what many in the Red Keep saw as one of the purest romances, and easiest matches, within the Targaryen dynasty.

He wasn’t so sure, but Aelor had long ago resigned himself to the distinction between duty and the rest of his life. His twin had done just the same. He met her with nothing but a dagger on his simple but polished black leather belt and silver buckle. It was borrowed, as was the long dagger in a black sheath. His own hair was combed out but retained a slight wave to it, a small braid falling from his head behind his left shoulder.

At the door he nodded to the house guards on duty, one of which simply opened the door and said something. A moment later she appeared, wearing a long cut gown in black satin that bared her porcelain shoulders hinted at the bright red satin lining, most notably at her chest. The young woman’s hips were dressed with a braided bejeweled black leather belt, seemingly every type of gem with every color, dazzling and sparkling as she moved.

Her Valyrian hair was combed fine and straight and let to fall about her back and chest and shoulders. He smelled rose petals when was anywhere close to him, alerting him that they’d met Elayne there. The twins met the Kingsguard Knight outside the Great Library, he along with six other Targaryen Knights that had traveled with them from the Red Keep would be posted on either side of the table, far enough back to be forgotten unless looked for, but close enough to act quickly if necessary. The white cloak would stand behind Aelor, who would take the head of the table. Lady Elayne and Princess Aelora on one side, the Lothson’s on the other.

The meal was splendid, not overly done as Elayne had feared. Nor was the gown that had been collected from her tent out of taste. The dark yellow could have been gold if not for the actual golden panels, taken from one of her mother’s dresses, but it the white lace and undersleeves were pristine. A series of black bats and towers were patterned across the plain brown belt and golden buckle. Suitable, though the neckline was hardly anything Elayne found proper. It had been commissioned by Danelle before they had left Harrenhal, one of the dresses to attract the eye. Smoothing the peerless gown, she gave the twins a smile that she hoped hid her terror at the mess this could well turn into as she tugged at a stray lock of hair.

Sweet pear wine and Arbor Gold were already awaiting at the set table, the smell of food making his belly rumble as he turned away from the table to the door, finding her looking at him for a second before looking back to Aelora. The wine would wait as Aelor made his way to the door and smiled, admiring the view, “Lady Elayne, you look beautiful…and terrified. Why is she terrified?”

Aelora smiled, “Because she’s not slow, Aelor. I was just telling her to take a deep breath, and come in! Look at the library, the table…and the wine. I’d suggest the sweet pear wine. It’s softer on the belly, but makes EVERYTHING better. Shall I fetch you a glass?”

Sighing at her failure to keep that terror hidden, Elayne tugged harder at the curling lock that fell over her shoulder. “The library is wonderful, books are wonderful.” She agreed though there was a strain in her voice. It would be a miracle if nothing untoward happened thus far. Though it was lovely to get a chance to see the twins in splendor, they were lovely and would look more still if she could just figure out how to make black stand out from black. Sheparding her mind back to the course, she found herself nervously pacing. Giving the twins a nervous smile, Elayne tried not to let the frown she felt through the mask and have it aimed at the Prince. He was such a good man for trying to help her, even if he seemed a bit a fool with his question. That he made more problems was simply a by product of such. “Please, Highnesses, I must apologize before hand. My father has- He doesn’t have the best of temperaments and is quick to assume.” Was she pacing again? Her feet seemed to be moving and she felt her hand tugged at that stubborn lock of hair. “This is going to be a disaster.” She whispered in utter horror of what was going to happen. Perhaps she might knock a candle over and spare disaster one way with another one? She knew herbs! Elayne mourned the too late thought, if she had thought it earlier some herbs in her wine would allow her to feign illness and put a stop to this madness! “Danelle is sharped tongue, but she means well. There’s a lot placed on her as heir.” She was fretting, wasn’t she?

Aelor’s face brightened, even as the light of the dying sun flooded the library chamber gold, a smile to match nearly upon his features, “They hate us and prefer the Blackfyres. We know. Treason, and all that.” He seemed amused by her, more than the topic of his own words. “It’s okay, Lady Elayne.”

And Aelora barely seemed to notice he said anything worth hearing at all. She was distracted, eyes on the table, worrying over little imperfections, asking a passing steward to make sure the fireplaces were lit, but along the first and second floors. It seemed to get more and more chilly with each passing night at Summerhall.

“Thoughts are hardly treason when they are less than words.” Elayne answered diplomatically, with a smile that was more teeth than the demure one she wore. “Highness.” That hesitation before adding his title was just as pointed. “I would ask you not to barb my father with such talk, Prince Aelor.” Her cheeks were positively flaming that she dared to say such to him, while a small part of her grumped that it was the man’s own fault for insulting her family. Not that he was wrong. No, he was far more correct than she cared for. The problem was treason by her father and sister would hardly spare her. Her hands at least had stopped tugging and smoothing. “Please?” She glanced towards the door, her brow creased though a small smile still masked her face.

“…what? What happened?” Aelora returned to the conversation, left lost by Elayne’s plea, eyes bouncing between Lothson and her twin.

Aelor said it flatly, like he was repeating some dull fact, “Treason, all that.”

“Oh, yeah.” All the sudden excitement from the mystery of what Aelora had missed in the conversation was gone the moment she heard the topic. For once, she looked more bored than Aelor. “Honestly, this might be our…twenty-and-something dinner with a Lord or Lady that’s treasonous in one way, or another?”

“Close to that number, I imagine,” Aelor nodded.

Aelora shrugged and smiled to Elayne, “We don’t care. You don’t feel that way.”

“I promise not to broach the subject.”

The other twin nodded, once, twice, “Yes, of course, myself as well: I promise not to broach the subject with your family.”

“…if they bring it up, however,” Aelor shrugged, slowly, as he turned on his boot and headed for the table.

Targaryen madness might be more common than she had first through, Elayne sighed and looked between the twins with the same lost expression she first had. “Thank you.” She whispered, and stiffened as she heard a servant open the door. Her hands moved to fold before her and her face became a beaming smile, a mask slid over all else. Taking a hesitant step forward, she watched at the servant brought in Manfryd and Danelle Lothston. “Father, Sister.” She paused as if a hand had been clamped over her mouth.

Manfryd had dressed well in a coat of black with a white and gold bat stitched across the chest. His face was a thundercloud that only dimmed slightly as he gave his youngest daughter a fond smile before turning his cold eyes on the Prince and Princess. Danelle observed the room as she and her father mad their bows to the royal twins. A finger lowering to lay with the rest of her hand.

“Oh, Elayne. Sweet sister, we were worried for you when you wandered off, on your first tournament going too.” Danelle’s husky voice could not be called soft but there was concern there. For her own plans, Elayne knew. Embracing her sister as Danelle seemed wont to do, the younger stiffened as Danelle’s voice dipped to a more private whisper. “Fool girl.” A snarl as she felt the woman’s thumb dig in slightly into her side, tucked away from their watchers.

Elayne kept her smile and observed for all of Aelora’s disapproval Danelle had chosen well. Wearing her own gown of creme with dark embroidery over it. “My apologies sister, I must have been caught up in all the excitement.” The threat was clear and she was to play along if she hoped to see another. “If I may? Allow me to introduce Prince Aelor and Princess Aelora of House Targaryen, who gave me such assistance. My father, Manfryd of House Lothston, Lord of Harrnehal. Lady Danelle, his heir.” It would be foolish to leave that out and probably earn her a sharp pinch to add it if she did.

Manfryd had turned his gaze from his wife’s greatest gift to him and glowered at the Prince. Seeming eager to want to demand answers as to the situation. “And why is it a Targaryen Prince, raised in decorum, would not see a lady returned to her family?” Elayne winced, even as she spied the small smile on Danelle’s lips. Had her sister been planting her seeds into their father’s mind about how her rescue by the Prince had gone?

Aelor had stood when the Lothsons entered, a pleasant enough smile upon his face introduced. At the Lord’s question, Aelor didn’t hesitate: “I confess to being lost outside the walls of Summerhall, Lord Lothson. You must recall this place I’ve spent so much time, transformed into a city of tents and pavilions as far as I can see. Lady Elayne spoke so highly of you both, I felt I had to invite you to Summerhall, and being I knew where it was…the choice was more practical.”
Princess Aelora found back teeth biting into her tongue to keep her from saying the wrong something. Finally, the pious and pure Princess spoke up, “We meant not to offend, my Lord, but to honor your House. There are five meals taking place right now in Summerhall. All small, all private, all invitation only. We sent a large party to immediately inform you of Lady Elayne’s situation, as well as to deliver the invitation.”

The point was unspoken but left bare for the Lothsons to see: they would be talk of the tent city. Some would mention Lady Elayne and the Prince, most would focus more on the dinner. What did they speak about? What petitions were spoken of? This is why there were stories of Aelor and Elayne?
Aelora knew the outrage to follow, the trap she stepped into, but she was confident in the fact that today had been a good day for House Lothson, and Lord Manfyrd in particular.

“Was the party sent to inform you and deliver the invite below your station, my Lord?” Aelora asked, visibly frowning, as the brother of the Kingsguard shifted uncomfortably at the sight from the far end of the room and the sudden silence became profound. It was no accident; unbeknownst to the Lothsons there was a harpist waiting to be brought in, and a minstrel with lute awaiting upstairs.

“It was fair enough.” Manfryd’s voice was not an inch warmer, but he could see the reason of the Prince taking Elayne to Summerhall. It had seemed nothing untoward had happened, but still.. There had been as many whispers saying nothing had happened between King Aegon IV and Jeyne, more were the whispers of his mother and sister sharing the same bed as the Targaryen King and each other. Danelle had suggested that it might be a ploy of some sort to take Elayne as hostage to make sure Harrenhal would remain a ruin. That all his plans would be to the tune played by the Targaryens. In truth? He had just as little love for the Blackfyres, but King Daeron he was sure was a bastard. A king with so many children and his wife only bearing one? Aegon had as well as named Daemon by bestoying the man Blackfyre, the ancestral sword. A sword this youth’s hand would never touch though by rights his father or grandfather ought to have it, if they were King Aegon’s trueborn heirs.

There was a shift of skirts as Danelle rose from a curtsy. “Fair enough, indeed. You honor us inviting House Lothston to dine with you.” It seemed that any urging Manfryd required Danelle was eager to give it. Elayne wanted to feel relief but she knew there would be hidden pitfalls.

Taking his cue from his daughter Manfryd continued. “Yes, it is indeed welcome that you arranged this” His eyes noting the Kingsguard skeptically. Elayne could imagine the man thought this to be a trap. Some scheme. He was hardly wrong, though it was more of Danelle’s making she mused. “Honored even.” He grated, and Elayne stiffened as she felt Danelle’s hand on her arm. A puppeteer. “Though one wonders why you could not send my child back with that party and invitation?”

All Aelora did was look at a certain Knight, and one of the Targaryen men-in-arms stepped back and away. Soon enough the minstrel with the lute would start in the background, descending from the spiral staircase.

Aelor looked, in an instant, emotional. There was a hard edge to his eyes, and his shoulders seemed to stiffen as he straightened to his full, impressive, height. His chin tightened, in anger, possibly? He nodded, several times, as his voice sounded, and the mystery was lifted:

Aelor wasn’t angry, but he did look and sound emotional the more Lord Manfryd pushed, “Lord Lothson…Ladies, apologies for the unpleasant nature of what must be said in your presence,” he walked as spoke, first speaking to Manfyrd, then stopping as he got close to Aelora, while looking to Elayne and Danelle and apologizing for what must be said. But what must be said wasn’t said, not until Aelor was within a foot or less of the Lord of Harrenhal. His voice quiet, intense. “I know what House Targaryen has done to your good House, Lord Manfyrd. I had not thought…I made a mistake. Once I realized it, once I arrived, I knew what had to be done.”

He moved, opening up to the rest of them and taking a step back, his voice louder but his tone the same, gravely seriously but more vulnerable than he was clearly comfortable with, “I had to bring you here. You had to see your daughter, well and untouched, kept company by my sister, while I practiced in the yard,” his voice lowered again as Manfyrd became Aelor’s only focus, the Prince once again stepping close to the man, “You had to see no harm was meant. You had to see a simple mistake was mistake, Lord Manfyrd, that House Targaryen knows the delicate nature of this situation and that we take it seriously. I needed you to see it with your own eyes…who else would you believe more than your own eyes?”

Elayne stiffened and would have taken a step into the fray had not Danelle’s resting arm turned to iron. “Elayne…” The voice spoke softly. “Be a dear and let him set his foot, or need I remind you?” The whisper never rose but Elayne’s eyes flickered between the men worriedly. Danelle had a plan and she was to play the empty headed doll, that Danelle expected.

Manfryd frowned a the Prince as they stood close to each other though he did not back away. Perhaps a fool, but Manfryd was no coward. Perhaps there had been some truth in what the Prince said and certainly there was sense, but lies were said as easily as wine was drunk. “A simple mistake? Perhaps, boy.” There was insult in that word as well, a pointed insult. Bristling slightly he was cut off as Elayne stepped hurriedly forward.

Ignoring the fury in her sister’s eyes, Elayne smiled and hurried to take her father’s hand. To save him from himself and this debacle if nothing else. “All is well Father. Truely, I must apologize for being so scattered.” Her meek voice never rose and was just as lost as she had been when the Prince had found her. “The Princess has been most delightful and gracious in allowing me to gather myself at Summerhall while the Prince was about his business. Please, allow us to dine and forgot this dark talk.” She smiled, beaming between the two men and tried to ignore the icy chill she could feel run down her spine. How had simply slipping around a tent turned into this mess? Smoothingher hand over her skirt as she dropped’her father’s hand at his curt look, she felt Danelle’s hand about her shoulder. Putting the strings back on the puppet she supposed.

“A simple mistake.” He repeated himself and glanced at Elayne before continuing far more carefully. “It seems simple mistakes have led us to here. You speak boldly for one so young and my daughter seems well off with your aid.” There was an edge still in the man’s tone and he seemed distinctly thrown off his first thought of challenge from the Prince’s and Elayne’s words.

Aelor heard no insult. A healthy respect for elders was beaten into Aelor in the Royal yards at the hands of cousins and uncles and Kingsguard. To a man the age of Manfyrd he was a boy, and fair enough. Aelora presented the seats to the Lothsons, apologizing for stealing ‘her new friend’ to the other side of the table with her.

It wasn’t long after drinks were poured and food was served. Aelor didn’t hesitate, asking before he even had a bite, “How is Harrenhal, Lord Manfyrd? How goes the town? I imagine a busy time with harvests near.”

He was interested in what the Lord of Harrenhal had to say, and Aelor knew few Lords who weren’t eager to talk harvests and stores and prices and castle, especially one like Harrenhal. Aelor knew its scale. He didn’t want to imagine running it.

It was the right way to steer the conversation and Elayne relaxed as she found herself sitting across from her father and sister. Had she sat by Danelle, her elder sister would have made her look the fool. As it was, Manfryd nodded easily and spoke of the repairs he had paid, per the laws written out by King Jaehaerys, for to restore parts of Harrenhal. The towers and the great hall, not that they were in disrepair, but they did require more refurbishing after neglect from former Lords. The town was a bustle with the harvest and not only the harvest coming in. Fishing was prevalent on the God’s Eye and the running of Harrenhal was fit to keep any man busy. A litt wonder, Elayne thought with a sigh, that he failed to notice the strife forming amongst his children.

Danelle for her part was listening pateitnly, and carefully. Her words adding in a thing that Manfryd mused over or nudging some idea before the man. Elayne felt the pinch to her side and hid her wince in her goblet. Danelle was going to be pleased to have her back, but unhappy about how easily she could have taken the favor of the Targaryens by fixing Manfryd ‘mindless blunders’. Though her words turned Manfryd from a topic every so often. Turning her words to Aelora the woman continued. “I do hope Elayne was not too much trouble getting under your feet. The girl can be a bit mindless at times, but then… Well, I fear you understand all too well. Having found her wandering about on her lonesome.” She added simply. Elayne merely smiled, though she tasted the hurt as she bit her tongue to keep from doing anything that would upset Danelle still more. Her hands folded in her lap, clenching neatly.

Aelora was mid-drink when Danelle began, lavender eyes bright and big and alive with a happy warmth as she listened, “Not at all. She was a great help, worked with palace staff and my own Ladies in Waiting to get tonight’s meal off the ground, allowed me to see to a very important visitor. Did some light reading on the Greater Mysteries of the Valyrians and the Rhoynar, too, since that was the book I left open.”

“Elayne will be speaking High Valyrian before we know it.”

It was a toast, as Aelor said it with goblet in the air. He said first in the way that came naturally to him, in High Valyrian. He said it again in the common tongue, for all present. Aelora repeated the High Valyrian, and held her own glass up. “To new friendships.”

Elayne felt roses bloom in her cheeks as her father looked with smug satisfaction. He had always thought highly of her, even if she forever seemed to fall short. But the praised heaped on the young woman by the twins made her clench her hands for another reason. “Surely not, forgive me Princess but I did not wish to disturb over much and reading is a small comfort.” She joined in the toast even as her family did. Her smile less of a mask and more true.

Danelle settled back into the chair and Elayne knew that the Princess thwarting her words would not go over well. Her sister did have her reasons, it was hardly easy being heir and her father would not understand that Danelle had no wish to marry a man. Still, the woman would be a fury for this. Elayne sighed, she feared she was getting far too beyond her sister and outshining her. Something that could not be allowed. “A doubtful thing.” Danelle stated cooly. “I’ve no time to spend finding her a tutor, the septa and maester do well enough. What need does a wife to learn High Valyrian? Perhaps if she planned to take an Essosi husband or a Valeryon, but I doubt they would look so inland for a wife.” She remarked with a small bitter laugh. “The men would terrify her with their strange ways!”

“No need, she has Targaryen friends now.”

Aelor’s smile and tone were sweet things in the moment, even if Aelora knew far better. But she smiled along, her tone never wavering from the warmth, “Indeed. We will visit, and you must visit Elayne! Come help me navigate the suitors with me, perhaps we’ll both get fortunate matches. A blessing you haven’t to worry about it, Lady Danelle.”

The tall woman tightened her grip on the stem of her wine glass and her eyes narrowed at the Prince and Princess. Aelora found her foot being thoroughly trodden, as much as a soft slipper could, on as Elayne saw the warning sighs of Danelle’s anger breaking through the surface. But it was Manfryd who spoke.

“Visits,perhaps.” He granted with a sober look of slight annoyance. “But Elayne will remain at Harrenhal while a suitable match is found.” Where it would be lords coming to him over the match. “More over, perhaps a match will be found tonight.” He remarked, Elayne knew she was now blushing for another reason than Aelor’s declaration alone and looked in alarm at Manfryd even as Danelle’s eyes slid sideways. “The Redwynes have two sons of their House that might be suitable.” He remarked. “A good rich house, though I would rather see you, my dear, married to an heir and not some run of the mill cousin.” A marriage for Danelle then, and the woman was looking like viper. Elayne swallowed heavily.

“It would be a pleasure.” Her tone was soft but there was no sweetness in it and her hands smoothed her gown. “I shall wish for all to go well Danelle.” The look from the martial woman made her skin crawl.

“As do I.” Danelle agreed with a vicious look. “Of course, these are matters for later and not this lovely dinner.”

“Talk of Banner rebellion in the Reach, Lord Manfryd. Pick the wrong match there, and you may never see Lady Elayne again,” Aelor added in, almost casually, confident in his information—he always paid attention to what Aelora relayed, even if liked the pretense that he didn’t most the time. That and a long sip of his wine, as Aelora found herself chiming in, the wine making her head a little warm, and fuzzy.

“Besides, Redwynes? They’re alright, but you’re the most powerful Bannerman to the Riverlands. The Crown knows Harrenhal is close should we need assistance, Lords of Harrenhal have a long history serving Royal councils, even Hands of the King. You have Harrenhal town itself, Lord Harrow’s Town, the lake, not to mention the largest structure in Westeros…this is a significant ally. You need an ally equally worthy. Perhaps you could offer your wisdom on our own potential matches, Lord Manfyrd?”

Aelor nodded, firmly, “YES. You’re an experienced man of steel and political prowess, Lord Manfyrd, we would be better off with your wisdom.”

The Lord of Harrenhal frowned slightly, puzzlement though not outright hostility. “The Redwynes have a son to take the Lothston name by marriage with Danelle. Though, I must ask, your own matches. Are not the two of you to wed each other as is your… custom?” Danelle took a long sip of her wine. Elayne looked startled and perplexed. A feeling she felt was all too common around the twins.

The twins just laughed, with Aelora finally being the first to admit, “An option, of course, but marrying to secure strengthened bonds with noble houses has worked well for House Targaryen most recently. It would be foolish for House Targaryen to not at least look into the possibilities that present themselves.”
“…you sound like our grandsire,” Aelor remarked, smirking at his sister.

She shrugged, “Yes, but he’s right.”

“He is.” Aelor wouldn’t dare pretend otherwise, leaving him to turn back to Lord Manfryd, “You know the kingdom as we do not, Lord Manfryd. You are…closer to certain aspects that we are not. You are cautious regarding your own children’s matches, so again I ask: what wisdom would you offer us were you an advisor to House Targaryen?”

Danelle could wish the two were stupid and in truth? She did most feverently. It would be so much simpler then, she could have her power. Harrenhal and her women to love and play with. Why did Elayne have to wander off? To be scoped up by some brat of a conqueror two hundred years in the past? “Very wise and tried and true notions.” She answered simply. Though she contemplated switching Elayne for this trespass upon their plans. Manfryd was rising too high too soon. It would draw attention when he died, and worse? He might well die with an heir if the other Houses sought to ally themselves with a marriage directly to the Lord. Of course she had taken precautions a bit of hemlock, a bit of night’s bane, a few other herbs in his mead. Something to loosen the bowels, to strain the heart. A bit to deaden the interest in women. But this?! Danelle was going to see him fall from the rampants next time he toured the repairs to Harrenhal!

Elayne leaned into the chair and watched as Danelle’s finger ran along the stem of the wine glass as though she wished it was some dagger. She those movements before and sighed. “How would I?” Her father’s voice was certainly off balance and his irksome nature was uncertain if this was some mockery of him or something to brag about later. Musing it over, the Lord of Harrenhal nodded seemingly in thought. “I would repair relations, in truth. Taking husband and wife those lords in key positions. Martial and commerce points of interest.” He words were careful and he looked rather thoughtful. Elayne felt her heart flutter slightly at the thought that there might be some chance, but the young woman stilled it. She was of a small House, in a ruined castle. Their lands were large, but hardly of interest.

“Marriages in Dorne and the Stormlands are always useful. Though I could hardly see why you’d look to the North. The Starks and loyal if nothing else and to be frank? Their uses are slim compared to the rest of the realm. They are vast, yes. But hardly rich and their military might can hardly face down the rest of the Six- Seven Kingdoms.” He shrugged seeming more in his own mind as he considered Aelor skeptically. Amused if nothing else. “I myself have a fair young daughter.” Elayne flushed as that thought came far too close to her own thinking.

Aelor looked to his twin, and nodded, slowly, “It’s good advice.”

“Right about the North. Plus dragons and cold…”

The Prince took a long drink, thought about it, shook his head, “I suppose you’re right.”

“He’s right, too, Lady Elayne is a potential match. We will have to inform our father.”

“His father?” Aelor asked, in a voice that wasn’t sure he wanted to hear the answer.

Aelora pondered it for a moment or two, before laughing, “I’m not sure. I’m always hesitant to bother him…better to let father if he decides it requires it.”
On that point, the twins agreed, and toasted to letting their father confront the King for an opinion on the matter, as Aelor explained to Manfryd, “We just recently opened up any kind of courtship. Summerhall is our first public appearance in such a capacity. Any potential matches we report to our father. I presume the Small Council may weigh in, the King himself, possibly.”

“Likely, in your case,” Aelora said, referencing the line of succession, as she downed what was left of her drink. The food was as eaten as it could get, neither twin being able to eat much more. “I fear the night grows late for me, you have a tournament soon?”

Aelor chuckled as he stood, “I did join those lists, didn’t I? Thank you for coming, Lord and Lady Lothston. Lord Lothston, I shall likely see you around the tourney field, same to both you Ladies.”

Elayne coud have happily died there in that chair rather than be subjected to the conversation of the Targaryen twins and her father. Her face turning into a red banner as she swallowed a gulp of wine.”I do.” Manfryd agreed, seeming much in better humor than he had before. His mind was rearranging plans and ideas, new ones and less tainted with the irritation, were being noted as they came. Moving to stand, the man bowed to the royal twins and looked to his two daughters.

Danelle was as serene as a ocean and it was just as much a lie, for within her a maelstrom was unfurling and her anger flashed in her eyes as she considered Aelora. The woman had power of some sort, some skill that had turned everything against her. Just as her twin did. Standing she crooked a finger at Elayne in a gestured that would drop the girl’s bright eyes to her shoes as well it should. “Come sister, let us be about to our tents for you to rest.” She commanded, not bothering to deign her younger sister with a glance.

The youngest of the Lothstons stiffened, her face paling slightly though her smile became more fixed. Standing, she hesitated and pressed a small strip of cloth into the Prince’s hand. “My favor. Wear it if you wish. I am sorry, I wish I could do this a more proper way, but…” She shook her head subtly, and gave both a smaller, far more apologetic smile. “Your hospitality was most welcome, Your Highness.” Dipping a cursty she moved to join her sister, her form becoming stiffer as she eyed Danelle warily. Anyone with sense would with the woman’s towering temper.

It was the white knight that had moved to the door, as the household guards stood sentinel just outside the doors of the library. He had said something about luck and the tournament to Manfryd, as Aelor thanked Elayne politely, and the mass of people moved for the door. Aelor stood behind, but Aelora stayed with them until the doors, until Manfryd was out still talking to the knight, and Danelle had seen Elayne go in front of her, to keep a better eye on her?

Aelora didn’t think about what happened next, she just acted: taking the four to five steps to reach the door from where she had stopped, reaching out and taking Danelle’s shoulder, leaning her neck forward so that her lips could be so close to Danelle’s ears the vibration of Aelora’s lips would be enough for Danelle to tell what was whispered, even if she didn’t hear it:

”I’ve seen your end.”

Lavender eyes smoldered at the woman as Danelle’s eyes shot back and over her shoulder at the Targaryen Princess, only for the Lothston woman to watch the Princess change completely on a dime, smiling and bidding them farewell, waving and thanking Lord Manfyrd for coming once again as the Kingsguard knight escorted them home as sort of parting honor guard.

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