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4 yrs ago
Current What lies in the hearts of the drae if not madness? - Ma'doc
4 yrs ago
Replies will be coming out in a few days. Been down sick.
4 yrs ago
"Fly you fools!"
5 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!
1 like
5 yrs ago
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


There was something amiss. She could sense it. The feel of the air had changed ever so slightly in the small cell that was considered a room for the young acolyte. Young, as if there were not children here learning all the Elders could teach them. They had little choice in the matter, the young woman mussed. It was learn or die in the dilapidated temple that was considered the training ground for those sensitive in the Force. It once had stood taller, but now half of it had sunk in the much of the swamp and the rest was falling apart bit by bit. Soon there would be left to remember the Sith Lords by except these teachings and the harsh way of life on the planet.


The water droplet smacked against her knee. The woman ignored it, for she felt it. The water of the swamp, the air. The Force was flowing about a rock. A interference to it's normal course. Gleaming yellow eyes opened in the rat infested pit as the woman stood slowly. Her form was a good deal too thin, but such was it in the Temple. Those who did not please the Elders did not eat as grandly as the rest, and the last thing she did was please the old windbags. A cruel smile taunting on her lips as she moved through the narrow passages. Several of the younger acolytes pressing against the stone and lowering their gazes. As they should! Mor'gann Arhar, was what they called her. She knew not her kin and had no friends amongst the Temple. Not the Elders would have permitted friendship to exist.

Mor'gann was a woman in a man's world, as far as the Elders who ran the Temple were concerned. Her power was not brawn like so many of the young lads, or older lads for that matter. But it was not sheer strength in the Force either. Many lacked the strength she had, and others out matched her. But her power laid in another side of the puzzle. The twisting of the rules and the calculating mind she possessed. Cloaking herself in the shadows of the wider halls, the woman slipped down the deserted halls to the treasured relic.

It was the pride and joy of the temple, and she had been whipped the last time she had dared to walk this hall. But now, she was not merely going to walk. Her eyes gleamed as she studied the two guards on duty. The other four were off. No doubt neglecting their duties, for who would think to challenge two of the 'instructors' that would be Elders in their time? They stiffened as she walked towards them, raising their thick staves. Raising a hand, she jerked the staves to her- one of the men landing on his face. But the staff was in her hand and the other was being beaten viciously back. Cracking the downed man on the back of the head lest he raise the alarm. She blocked the blow of the still standing guardian and twisted around to his back. There was a second vicious pop before the man toppled over the first. Dead. It was just as well, and with good measure she broke the neck of the first.

It wouldn't do to leave witnesses.

Opening the weary looking door, she walked down the great hall and to the podium. Her ragged cloak being pulled on while she did so. Soon this place would be swarmed, for the Elders would sense that something was amiss in the Temple at least. The contempt in her thoughts filled her with pride. She was better than they. She had gotten this far and the relic was hers. Her bare hand closed about the lightsaber. The metal feeling grimy and odd. It was old, most likely not having much left to give.

But it would do.

It would have to.

Turning she slipped amongst the shadows as other robed acolytes much like her hurried to the scene. Let them run there, she would find this anomaly and deal with it. Then, for good or ill, she would be away from this backwater- quite literally in some instances- planet. Following the sense of the abnormal stirring of the Force, Mor'ann smiled as she heard the furious yells behind her as they discovered their loss. They would have some trouble sorting this out. All the better for her, though that would not last long if they used their head and set aside the petty squabbles that left them in the ruins when the stars reach above.

Now, she was off to try and find a way off this planet and that meant a ship, a captain and if she had to? Mor’gann was not against trying to fly the things, though she would not know the first thing about it. The murk about her opened in the foggy light of day, the sun sinking towards the horizon. The hunting parties would be out and seeking prey, it was just as well because as her feet found the more solid ground and her form slid between the foliage and into the forests of Dxun, she heard the roar of one of the more burly elders finding their loss.

“Codari, pack it up. Dad’s almost done with the research. Aunt V’s bringing the ship in.” The two boys clad in Beskar had been watching the sporadic movements of the forest. Kanis hated desolate worlds like this, give him a bar or some place to relax. Instead for days now it had been patrol’s near the temple complex. At least they had good intel on the place now... An entire temple complex made from Mandalorian Iron, a hell of a find and one they could use. It would give Ordo more beskar than any other clan at the moment... They just had to figure out how to get the stuff off the world quietly. Natives, wildlife, and made this place the opposite of habitable, even to Mandalorians.

Codari rolled his eyes, as he finished getting the last bag of camping supplies together. “Where has Auntie V been anyway? She shot off after we got here like she had no interest in the temple.” Kanis chuckled as he patted his brother on the back.

“She doesn’t, went off to paint... Dxun and Onderon will pass close enough to exchange atmospheres... And critters. Hence she wanted a chance to paint the happening in real time.” Explained the older brother as they heard noises, then cries and howls of anger. “Locals making a lot of noise, maybe we ought to give’em a scare? Dad said the only thing they respect out here is strength?”

Codari chuckled. “Always more balls and blasters than brains with you... They won’t come out this way, this temple usually brings all sort of ill will. Why do you think Bogan is so strong here?”

“Yeah, yeah... Smartass. Where the hell is dad then?” He asked, turning back towards the entrance to the temple of Freedom Nadd with a hope they’d be gone before something worse arrived than the corpses of wildlife they’d already had to stack having been driven mad by the well of darkness beneath them.

The other temple would be a good place to begin, perhaps finding more power. That was the reason that had Mor’gann fleeing from the swamps and over the great boles of trees. What she had not expected were others already there and the foliage exploded as the thin woman burst from the trees to stop short. Her body instantly twisting into a fighting stance as she stared up at the great obsidian tower. Her yellow gaze switching to the two figures at it’s base. Her robe a cloth that had more holes and ragged tears than not. The sash about her middle stained with what would look like, and was in fact, fresh blood. A hunting party had come across her and she had left the two men and one of their spears behind her, the second spear in hand as she leveled it at the two youths.

Acolytes? No, they were not from Dxun, that fact was instant relevant as she noted their odd implements and their gear. Sparing no look behind her, the pursuit would take some time to find the trail and then keep it. She had survived so long keeping herself to the shadows and out of sight. “You… Have you a ship?” Her words came out in a combination of Old Mandella, High Galactic, Ancient Sith melded into an odd dialect. Making a noise of irritation, of course they wouldn’t understand the outlanders never did. Fumbling for the words, she repeated herself though with less fluency than Mor’gann would have liked. “Have. You. Ship.” The question more of a command in a voice that was harsh and as sharp as her features. The thin chest under those robes rising and falling with harsh breathing that came from running and running hard. Her chin length hair mused from the run through the jungle, as if she noticed anyways. “That armor… “ It was fairly familiar. She had seen such among the populace of her tribe, or the tribe she had just beaten with a stick and left.

Kanis had his rifle on her the minute she cleared the brush, watching her through his helmet’s visor. His armor was dull gold, as she approached muttering something, before speaking more clearly in her... Strangely, he could make a bit of it but the dialect and tone suggested a question, maybe she was asking if there were more of them. A scout for the assault... Or one of them running from the danger?

Codari began to approach her, understanding her a bit better as he stood up walking slowly towards. “Ship. We have.” He answered, before trying to reach out, telepathic communication would be faster than struggling with a language barrier. He snapped back a moment later as he felt her defenses. “She’s sensitive to it.” He answered by taking a step back now, his head flicked to her sash where the saber lay hidden. A moment of realization came to him. “Kanis she might be-”

Kanis already sensed his brother’s answer before he could finish dropping the rifle and pulled his staff a piece of wood? For a man wearing that much metal armor. The other slightly slimmer if taller one produced a saber and took the metal shield off his back. Kanis tilted his head towards his brother and his armor red to honor their father. “Sith. She’s a threat. No doubt here for something in the temple.” He pointed the staff at her, unlike his more gentle brother a command entered her mind. ‘Drop your weapons and surrender’ she could feel his voice in her mind as he readied himself for battle; they were not simple acolytes; they had weapons and arms beyond this world.

Whatever she had expected, that something brushed against her. Her gaze flashed with outrage at this trap? A ploy by the Elders? They had a ship though, for that? A way off Dxun was something she would fight for. With everything she had, so when the one approaching paused, Mor'gann found words projected into her mind. That was not something she had expected, and it was not something she had time for. They had something she wanted, a way off Dxun. Considering the options, she cast the spear to the side with a careless toss. If they thought that made her dangerous? They would find themselves mistaken. Yet… Two against one? Unknown and outmatched as she was? One with a stick and the other with a lightsaber, a tool of legend? It would be best to appear to be meek and mild. It was a ploy she had used before to great effect and these fools hardly knew her. “Ssssith.” She hissed the work, softly tracing over how they spoke their language. It would be useful later after all. The saber stuffed into the sash about her waist beneath her robes was ignored at least for the moment. Men would always get cocky, make mistakes, they all did.

Codari frowned. “Brother... She’s baiting you.” Unlike the others he wore a chest plate, shin high boots, and guards along the arms but his frame was more so robes. Tall with slightly narrower shoulders than his companion, the shield and lightsaber he carried was unique and different from other styles she has seen of combat with such a weapon.

“No, she’s underestimating me. Jedi kill Sith, it is the way of things.” He answered firmly, eliciting groans from his brother. As he did Kanis lunged forward striking out with the staff pivoting with its strike at core trying to knock her back. Codari for his part watched and circled around her slowly as if watching her yet she’d note his helmet would block most of his vision upon her. His golden armor adorned his entire frame, stocky a bit shorter than the other. Clearly he looked stronger, the authority in his tone made him the older brother.

Neither gave way much of their appearance beneath the armor as cloth hung around it of simple brown. Both able to be seen more clearly now as they advanced upon her, one cautious and one eager yet... She felt something else from within the temple, another presence perhaps?

They were already arguing? What a joy, this would be all the easier. Still as the one lunged, she slipped to the side, her fist striking out as she twisted to attempt to drive a knee into the lad’s back as she passed. Ideally the slide to the side would take her away from the circling one. Her gaze piercing as she drew one of the skinning knives from her sash, and one for fighting. The latter heavier as she adopted a crouch. Not attacking, unless they did but patiently waiting. At least for the moment. “Sith kill Jed’ii.” She repeated the words with her accent twisted upon them.

Kanis grunted, the kick mostly deadened by the plate; it still annoyed him as raised his gauntlet and aimed it.

Codari yelled. “No whistling birds! You know the rules. Those are not a toy Kanis!” The younger brother spoke moving forward; he tossed the rounded shield into the air as she watched it sail towards her as he moved to grip his brother’s arm. “We do not kill unless there is no other choice!”

Kanis wrenched his arm free with a growl. “I’ll dispatch worshippers of the dark how I please! It is their fault the galaxy is so terrible!” He screamed as reached back for one of the black and gray spheres on his belt.

Siezing the shield using the Force, she let it carry about her in a semi circle to hurl it back at the two. Sweat broke out on her brow at doing that with the speed and at the drop of a pin. Still, it was needed. It appeared that those ancient Sith the temple tried to emulate were a sore spot for one lad. That was something she could play on. “Worshippers.” She gave a dark chuckle, amused as she straightened. There was a word she was unfamiliar with. Resorting to her native tongue, his anger would drive him if she dropped some of the words she did know in just to rile him with what was not known. “Oh, so you are troubled by the Sith? For what they did to the Jed’ii? You scream and howl like a pack of maalraas pups. I kill, slaughtered, them for practice.”

It was time to draw that weapon. He had one, and fighting him bare handed wasn’t doing anything to hurt him. Not that she wanted to hurt him. Someone had to pilot the ship. Surely the other one would do just as well. Reaching into her robe, she pulled the lightsaber free and smacked it hard against her leg. Igniting the flickering red light from the ancient looking thing. “Angry boy. One ship. One kill.” She crooned, purring as she waited for the charge she expected. Men were always charging.

Kanis rolled in time and brought a gauntleted hand up to catch his brother’s shield. With one hand he took a deep breath handing it to his brother. “Right... I’m sorry... I can’t.”

Codari reached over, placing a hand on his brother’s shoulder slowly spreading the calm from him to his brother. Brother. We can’t win this like this... Together?

Kanis nodded as he took off his helmet, the red haired young man stared harshly forward as he took a breath. Together. Rise like steam.

Codari answered in his thoughts. Fall like rain. He dropped his shield taking his brother’s staff. She heard no words between them now. As he turned off his saber handing it to his brother. Who produced his own, Codari stepped infront the once more cautious brother centered himself pointing the staff at her. Not a charge he slowly advanced towards her as he came to a stop twenty paces from her. Taking a defensive posture his brother rushed forward kicking off his back he entered the air. No longer were they bickering they fought now more as one than a pair of snapping hounds. Landing behind her ignited the twin sabers as Codari advanced from her front trapped between the now co-operating pair as a great noise filled the air and the gates that ancient metal temple began to open.

A smirk crossed her lips as she saw what they were doing. This was actually a challenge, a fight. One against opponents that were clever. Not that her kinsmen were not smart, they were just focused on survival and had grown in a vicious society. As had she. Though now that one was on either side? A tactical retreat was most likely called for. Being between snapping maalraas was not a good place to be. Letting the one behind her lash out with his sabers she would knock them away, deflecting them as she launched herself in her own jump away and further towards the forest. Away from the temple. Another was coming from the depths of the temple and she was indeed out numbered. Best to retreat. Watch, learn and then perhaps stowaway. Twisting she scooped up the spear and cast it at Kanis, the red hair a shock to one used to darker locks. The motion smooth and practiced from years living on Dxun. Twisting, she sought to leap again and into the fringe of the forest. To disappear amongst the trees. A surprise attack was to her advantage and the fight had turned against her.

“That’s enough children.” A voice called, Mor’gann’s spear stopping in the air... Then clattering to the ground. As emerging from the temple doors was a figure clad in born robes, bandages covered his eyes with red hair sticking out in tufts he carried a metal staff. Yet she saw no other weapon; he had only raised a hand. He did not turn yet in her own language. “You are there among the trees and brush. Come forward child... Let me look into your heart and see if you may leave the accursed planet we stand on.” He spoke without yelling yet she felt it as a command, his presence almost calming and... Warming the older man was blind yet from the one she had seen the boys must be his sons.

On a planet such as Dxun drowning in the dark the peace of light someone like Airus brought to the world was... Rare and strange. Perhaps this was the real Jetti, the thing that had brought low the builders of the temple he emerged from time and time again.

She hesitated, stunned by the spear falling as if the language the man spoke was not enough. For it was her own and Mor'gann had never heard someone not from Dxun speak it. It was enough though to pause her flight entirely. Her wrist flexed as she twirled and twisted the lightsaber in a pattern at ease. Ready to fight despite al, for fighting was the blood and bone of survival. “You speak the language, though you are not from Dxun. No man so injured would stand here.” How could he see into her heart unless he meant to talk? Still she moved no closer, her stance still and poised to fight or flee as the weapon in her hand moved from side to side waiting to strike. After being attacked when she had offered words? Mor’gann was not going to be so open again. “You ask me to drop my guard when I was not the first to strike a blow? This is Dxun, no child survives upon this planet.”

Airus chuckled as he stepped towards her slowly but not cautious or wary of her. Even wielding a weapon such as she had. “I have no eyes yet... I know where you are. Where the life around me dwells. I feel the world laid bare to know a thing from its soul and emotions not from something so easily deceived as sight.” He spoke, stopping before her shaking his head. “You are scared. Lost. Alone. You want help but know not how to ask for it. You want to learn but know not what you need to learn.”

He reached forward as she felt him touch her mind, a moment passed, giving her a glimpse of his sight. She could feel the beasts in the distance, the rustle of leaves, and see the souls of herself and other two boys. No color could describe the swirling mass that made up the complexity of their aura. Even her own shifted and changed just in those moments. He stood close before her, cradling his staff tilting his head down towards her.

“Would you care to learn more than any elder of Dxun has dreamed in ten thousand years? I am a teacher. A keeper of history of things dead and living. If you are so curious to learn... You might forge your own weapon.” He spoke gesturing to the saber she clutched protectively. “Or learn to do as I just did.” He reached a hand back her spear shot to him with sudden speed as he offered it back to her. Letting her claim he reached up and placed a hand on her head patting it. “But before any of that... You are starving. We have plenty of food and not enough company for dinner, join us.”

Mor’gann glared at the man as he drew closer and closer. Too close and too irritating. Though his points were correct in a general sense, she still took a step back as he drew too close. Even offering her spear back to her, she did not move to take it. “You offer knowledge and aid. What is the cost?” Suspicions were there and for reasons. Nothing came for free on Dxun. Like a frozen creature though his hand was patting her head before she could react. It made the woman furious. Swiping the saber across the man’s arm, she angled to take his arm off at the elbow for the careless action.

His free hand came up, his brow furrowed as without retracting the hand she aimed to slice off the second move and caught the blow from the saber. For just a moment his hand braced against the searing plasma then with a push he shifted away. Looking at her his hands untouched by her blade. “If I can do that without a weapon. What might I do with one?” He asked her now, letting her understand that pushing him would not do her a service here.

“The cost? The cost is service. You will learn and grow under my tutelage, your mistakes will be my mistakes. Your choices will reflect on me. What do I ask? I ask that you grow wise and learn well... And if I am good enough. You will choose peace over violence.” He turned away from her, leaning his staff. “That and putting up with my two boys. They are both learning alongside you.”

It was a common enough cost, though found the concept of peace of violence alien to how life was on Dxun. Studying the way he blocked her blade, she had flinched. Now she was confused as he turned away after she had struck him. Still, there was nothing to say she couldn’t slip away later, and he did offer food. Slowly she deactivated the saber, moving from the stance. Still she was wary of the two boys, irritants she would call them. “You said you have food-?” He had been very correct on that point.

“Yes. However we should-” He was cut off by a loud boom as something emerged in the sky above.

Kanis grunting. “Too late Aunt V is here.” Mor’gann was treated to the sight of something her people had not seen since the clone wars. An old Republic Hammerhead Cruiser had begun its descent; it was larger than most any ship that came regularly by four or five times the size. As the blind man turned back towards her.

“Well... Let’s introduce you to my sister.” He spoke with a sigh almost defeated as the ramp dropped. She could read the name on the side in high galactic. The Blindluck. Seems whoever named the ship had a sense of humor.

Codari paused looking over at Mor’gann. “...Sorry about the fight.” He tried to speak her tongue... Though it sounded broken and disjointed. Seemed he did not have his father’s ability for speech.

The Dxun native glared at the ship, the writing’s joke lost on her. The one apologized, when fighting was natural? These were strange folk, still… It would be time practicing how to fit among the larger galaxy before she slipped away. “Your apology is meaning less.”

Codari blinked. “Everything has meaning. We just might not know at first glance.” He added through clearly a bit wounded by her words, the two boys moving to load gear. As emerging from the cockpit was a woman with long red hair and reddish skin. Her height a bit less than Airus’s as she glanced up and down Mor’gann.

“Airus what have I told you about picking up strays?” She spoke in a teasing tone circling Mor’gann. Before gasping a moment later.

“She's an interesting one Varina. Besides, her tribe would kill her if she stayed.She needs training to guard her thoughts and herself.” Airus spoke leaning against the wall with a sigh.

Varina rolled her eyes. “You have an ancient saber, one I would love to get a look at~'' She spoke not Mor’gann’s language yet it was as if someone translated it for her when she did speak. Airus chuckling a moment as he rolled his eyes.

“We are Jedi Knights... Airus.” He gestured to himself giving a formal bow. “And this-”

“Is Varina!” The more excitable woman answered, flourishing her own bow as for a moment she seemed to sparkle. “As for how you understand me. Airus is hearing me and translating the words in your mind. Nifty combination of comprehending speech and telepathy. Skills we can teach you. You’d be able to understand any species in the galaxy conversation.” She explained cheerily. “Now... Let me see that saber, and I’ll let you play with my box of parts for building new ones!” She spoke eagerly and excitedly.

The entire experience was unnerving and Mor’gann was regretting not fleeing. Giving a dark look to the man, she said slowly in her mother tongue. “Stop that. I do not require coddling.” Though she might require a shield away from that woman who now circled her bright and chatty. It was something she did not know how to deal with. Women and women like this were rare on Dxun, not rare they did not exist. Shoving the saber into her robes, she took a long strep away from the woman, alarmed by this behavior, though that step set Cordai between them.

Codari chuckled as he pulled off his helmet. “Yeah... She’s a lot... I’ll help you find a room.” He offered as Airus released his grip on her mind he grabbed Varina by the hood.

“Settle in Mor’gann! You’ll be with us awhile. It’s at least two weeks until our next stop.” He pulled the older woman who whined as he did.

“Airus! Airus it’s a new saber of ancient design! I wanna examine it! How can you be so mean to your sister?!” She cried as they vanished up to the bridge as Codari walked her down the halls. Stark white and gray cleaner than anything she had seen before.

“...Well you’ve met most of our little family. I’m Codari Vel Aath... My father and Aunt were up there.” He explained slowly walking her through the weaving hallway of the ship.

“Aunt…?” Another term unfamiliar to her. Though her tongue was using the common language found across the galaxy, not the Dxun pigeon that she had grown up with. Nor did she turn her back on the other boy, brother. Blood she guess from the looks the three men shared. Still she followed this Cordai. It seemed safer than getting ambushed by the woman again. Hesitating she gave up her name, it was hardly important but talking was hardly her strong suit. “Mor'gann. Arnhar.”

“Codari Vel Aath.” He spoke, stopping finally at a door that opened... A room all her own: a bed, shelves, a desk, even more room than some of the elders had in their homes. “My brother and I are on the other side of the hallway if you need anything. Please make yourself at home. I'll come get you for dinner soon.”

The room was not massive, large compared to some of the private quarters she had seen, but far larger than she herself felt comfortable with. Her movements were that of a cat mincing about an unknown and potentially dangerous territory. Which it was to her. Looking about it, there was subtle confusion in her gaze. “All this for one?” Though another worry was the single door in and out. “Large.” Perhaps she misunderstood something?

He walked in, opening another door showing the bathroom. “You can shower and use the facilities here. Yes. Honestly this is considered little space where we come from... My clan has an entire planet to ourselves.” Codari explained as he showed her around... She realized she could ask about why he and his father lacked eyes but not his brother.

Their blindness must be some ritual thing, as far as she was concerned. Blinking at the facilities, she grimaced. “Soft.” Too soft, she would become weak in a place like this. Though the facilities promised at least the grum of Dxun would be gone, hopefully for good. “You say this small? House five older acolytes, easily. Brother-fool he will not… revenge seek-?”

“He’s an idiot... But he listens to dad. He fought in the clone wars... Then against the Empire... Well you haven’t seen him fight... He’s a force of nature.” He lifted his lightsaber up a moment letting her see it. “His master was the Battlemaster... Greatest warrior among the Jedi. Yet he became a master of lore and ancient knowledge.” Codari explained with a proud smile. “Not to mention like me... He can see through walls, darkness, even see hidden objects on your person.”

“Wars…?” There was a perplexed look on Mor’gann impassive face. “Traders share some news but…” But she was an acolyte in disfavor. News got to her last and was often twisted. “Explain.”

Codari moved to the holo projector. Showing holo’s of soldiers fighting... And then she saw ten of thousands or more rows of machines advancing. A single Jedi at the head of the smaller force of soldiers clad in white. “The clone wars...” They would take their dinner in the room as Codari went over the last thirty years of galactic history.

Collab with @Ruby

The Red Keep

Tapestries hung from the walls softening the rooms given to House Harroway, they were frippery. Unneeded finery that was foolish, but paying for them kept the women of Lucas’s House happy, unlike his study, this room was theirs in that right. Had he done anything else, their mother Catelyn would have been beside herself. Hanna was under no illusion that her parents had a pleasurable marriage. It was simply a fact that a lord of the Realm must wed a woman and she would bear him children for his heir and spare. Past that? Generally, the more children the better and Hanna could recall stories of some lords who had pressed too hard for too many children and caused their wives’ deaths. It was perhaps cynical of her, but Hanna could image a few of the lords in the Riverlands who fit the particular bill. So it was to her benefit that her father sought to marry her out of the Riverlands and to a House that stood high in the realm.

It only made sense, she was sister to the Queen now. Men would want that access to King Maegor. She was rather stunned they weren’t already at the door bidding for her and her sister’s attention. Urging their father for fast and fruitful marriages.

Her needle flashed silver as she darted it through the cloth of her embroidery as she sat in a gown of light blue. Her hair left to fall in soft curls down her back, held back by a crest of her house’s sigil. The towers of Harrenhal, she would say with pride. Not even a lie, her father had taken the sigil upon receiving Harrenhal for his own before her birth. Her delicate lips thinned as she considered the lack of the indolent younger brother in their rooms. Usually, about now he was complaining, wanting to avoid the scheming of the courtly function to go and drink and practice his sword play.


Not now, her brother was gone. Exiled from their rooms as he had declared for Maegor. Their father had said the lad had taken up a man’s arms and thus should stay the night where there could be no distractions. In truth, Hanna thought it was because Lucas could not bear to look at his son. Which was reasonable! Horas had been an utter fool to present his sword so! There were knights, full knights and not overgrown squires, aplenty! A flicker of fear entered her eyes as she recalled her Lord Father’s rage when they had reached their private quarters. It was the one time all the women of Harroway had fled and stayed in their shared room without complaint as Lucas dressed down his youngest son in the other room and proceeded to fume for the better part of the night.’

She yanked a particularly stubborn thread, dismissing that horrible thought that her father could so easily dismiss her. He would never, could never, as she was a useful bargaining chip. A future marriage alliance could be bought if she was offered thus securing their House in the Great Game that was their life. As if to secure herself in this thought she looked over the delicate chairs and the ornate tables and shelves that held books, and odds and ends for their pleasure. A thick rug before the hearth, which now laid empty and clean of soot that could stain a lady’s hand. Her sister, Jeyne, in another chair ‘reading’. The woman was doing nothing of the sword as she twisted and broke thread as she attempted to spin it into a thicker cord with the drop spindle. Perhaps it was fury, perhaps worry, Hanna supposed as she studied the sister decked in the dark green gown that was fitted more like her own than the sort that Jeyne preferred. It was an Occasion and as such, they must be presentable. Able to prance about like fine mares and show their lines had bred true.

Not that she had that problem. Hanna was beautiful and she knew it. It only irked the woman that she must share that designation of beauty with a bastard. Elayne for her part was dressed in an old gown of Alys’s. Out of date, it had to be from before her eldest sister married the Prince, now King. The color had faded from a deeper green to something softer. Yet for all that, it was not overly worn from age or cut badly on Elayne. It was one of those dressed when the entire household was to see an event. Even the servants Hanna supposed. In the room just off their solar, her father was muttering and shuffling in his private quarters, the noises leaving the place feeling slightly chilled despite the fact the sun still shone. That everything would be well.

It would be well, all would go well.

Elayne was all too aware of the trouble the Harroways faced, her number among them for this count. Horas had brashly charged into the Trial of Seven when knights had paused. Lord Lucas himself had looked hesitant at stepping forward to defend the honor of his son by marriage through Alys. That a squire should shame them all? It would be a miracle if he survived and a cruel, yet expected, twist of fate if he died. For with his death, House Harroway would lose two members in a single year. Both candidates to increase their standing. Elmo going to the Maesters had been a hard blow and one that had been turned to the benefit of the house, but Lucas losing his third and youngest son? With only two grandsons and his brothers having sons of their own, his line would be less secure.

Her needle neatly slipped in and out of the embroidered hem she was fixing to a gown’s cuff. Her thoughts far and away from the present. There was nothing she could do but maintain the silence for to break it would attract the ire of the Lord of Harrenhal. Once that title had belonged to the man who had sired her, now to the one who had seen to her rearing. A small fact, but one she desperately despised that they were not one and the same man for her own sake. Had she been a trueborn daughter to Lucas? She would be in a slightly better position. Who knew of Gargon, the Qoherys lord had died before her time. An act of providence perhaps? Either way, she waited and one eye was kept on the Jeyne. The girl was planning something though Elayne knew naught exactly what that something was.

Vhandyr’s arrival was late enough that there was talk of a Trial of the Seven already within the corridors and vaults of the Red Keep. Red Keep, they called it, because of the red stone, some under steward had explained…as if it needed explaining. Vhandyr smiled, remained silent, and just let the older servant talk. And talk. He asked some questions about Terrax, to which Vhandyr finally gave some audible answer.
“He is, like Balerion, from before the Doom.”

”Oh.” The man seemed surprised by it, and no doubt, he was. Vhandyr was known as the Lord of Volantis, and in that capacity he was well enough known. Outside of that House Balaerys was little enough known outside some of the higher nobles and the Maesters of the Citadel. They were just Valyrian blooded, like so many Volantene, to those that didn’t know better…such as this under steward.

The chambers awarded him were large, and still smelled of fresh paint. He was, the servant explained to him, the first to stay in the quarters since its construction and furnishing. Vhandyr thanked the man with gold, and off he went. He bathed, he brushed out his hair, and spent the next few hours reading one of the tomes he had requested: the most current book on noble lineages of Westeros they had.

Surprisingly, very up to date. Surprisingly only because he had heard that despite the Citadel in Oldtown, too many in Westeros neglected knowledge and information. That included the Targaryen dynasty, and Maegor hadn’t exactly been bookish during their time together. He considered riding out, demanding a place at this Trial of Seven…but Maegor would know he had arrived. Terrax was hard to miss, even if the old dragon did immediately take off again after their arrival—Terrax never liked cities too much or staying in one place for too long. The oversized lizard was made for flying, and Vhandyr would never begrudge him that freedom. Terrax, like Saeryx, had a way of knowing when to come back.

The sun was just starting to begin its tumble towards the horizon, still hours from sundown, when Vhandyr finally stirred, checking the journal and notes in the bag he’d taken with him. It was Vaera’s last note that perked him:
Valyrian girl, Elayne, House Harroway. They’re treating her badly, see to her once in KL.

It was typical Vaera. Was this girl Valyrian? Possibly. Was she being mistreated? Also possible, but he knew full well just how much Vaera could exaggerate a tale, or twist the truth of something into her convenience. A message arrived by way of a runner, but it wasn’t from Maegor. It was from the Master of Coin upon the Small Council. Vhandyr only chuckled at it because it didn’t surprise him…if Volantis was known for one thing, it was wealth. And trade with Volantis was always something people were keen to talk about, wherever he went…even when he was still in Volantis.

He gave no response to the runner, only dismissed the young lad with a friendly nod and silver. The Master of Coin would try again, and in the meantime, Vhandyr was in no mood for trade talk. He dressed in black and bluish green of Balaerys, the color of Terrax, and was certain he looked the part of the Lord of Volantis. A silver dragon pin held a half cloak hanging from his massive shoulders as he left the room and asked the first people he saw about the Harroways. Directions were given, and he thanked the servants with words and silver. The directions were clear, concise, and easily followed…a rarity within castles, especially new castles, in his experience. He nodded to guards outside the door, and they confirmed he was in the right place.

“I am here to see Lady Elayne.”

“Aye, m’Lord, we’ll get Lord Lu…what?”

“Lady Elayne,” he repeated, almost smiling.

The two guards exchanged a look. “Yes, uh, of course.”

Three heads turned at the sound of a door opening. One quickly with a whipped braid, the other with slow disapproval, and the third with a subtle interest. They had expected the door to Lucas's study, not the door that led to the rest of the Red Keep. A guard stepped through, and his eyes were nervous. A good thing when intruding upon one's lord when his mood was sour. It was the glimpse they caught of the man behind them that perked interest. Tall, silver-haired and certainly not Maegor. Elayne would expect that man to just walk into whatever room he chose and any who hampered him would turn the stone all the more Red.

It was the guard though, a man who was nervous and seemed debating upon what he was to do. By rights, he should alert his Lord, and yet this Lord of Volantis, for there was no other Targaryen man aside from the newly crowned king, had asked for Lady Elayne. Clearing his throat he spoke perhaps more loudly than necessary. Not daring to intrude on Lord Lucas and not wanting to leave the man unaware of what was happening. He had served under the Lord since the time of his first wife. While Lucas had only been a man with means and a knighthood, the guard had stayed with him as the coin was good and his honor was better than what a man could find when Gargon Qoherys ruled from Harrenhal. “Lord-” What was the name of those Volanteen dragon riders? This was one of them. The appearance of something that could match Balerion had been evident and someone had to be riding it! “Balerys?” The name came as a question before he hurried on. “To see the Lady Elayne?” That was even more of a question but it was a reasonable question.

Elayne herself was not among those who took this change in stride. Jeyne was gaping and looking startled while Hanna merely scanned the entrance to their rooms with a calculating expression. The girl was plotting a match, always looking for a better opportunity. The richer, more powerful husband. It was an easy thing to understand when you took into account they were raised at Caitlyn’s knee. Already Elayne had moved to stand, setting aside her work into its basket as she hesitated. A second of delay allowed the Lord of Harrenhal to step forth from his quarters. His clothing looked orderly, but there was an unkempt look to his hair as if he had been running constant fingers through it. Striding to the door he stiffened upon seeing who the visitor was. A man known to him through the odd letter he received from Alys. Vhandyr Baelrys. “Lord Vhandyr. A pleasure to see you on this side of the Narrow Sea. Though I must wonder what brings you to my door?” And with an interest to see her? Elayne could only imagine that this was some ploy of Damon’s. Had he finally done as he had threatened? She moved to be just out of reach of the Lord of Harrenhal but there should she be summoned and near enough to the women’s quarters if she was told to go.

Vhandyr’s cool lavender eyes gave the Lord a purposeful gaze, his voice as firm and even as the foundation of the Red Keep itself, “My sister, Vaera Balaerys, met these ladies.” Then, in that moment, Vhandyr did something he rarely did so openly…he smiled. Wide and warm, as his mind worked the room and the various circumstances dancing within it. “She bid me to come and meet Lady Elayne. Lord Lucas, is it? Lord of the great fortress Harrenhal? I’ve read your seat is nearly the equal of anything the Freehold created, you must have done quite well. Permit me a walk with Lady Elayne? Even I don’t tell Vaera Balaerys that I ignored her direction, though I wonder what her mind was when she made this request to me…”

His voice trailed, his eyes finally finding who had to be Elayne.

The Lord of Harrenhal had not expected that answer, nor did Elayne. That Lady Vaera had a hand in this arrangement was as good as a shouted command from the Iron Throne. The woman was implacable from the little Elayne who had known or interacted with her. Lord Lucas stepped away from the door, allowing the smaller woman to be seen. Dipping a curtsy, perhaps a bit too low from the frown her ‘father’ produced, the silver-haired woman straightened slowly. Would he dare to insist upon a guardian to escort her? It would be proper, but it could also be perceived as a slight on Vhandyr’s honor.

“You compliment me overly much, My Lord. The Keep of Harrenhal stands still, but its completion was marked by dragon fire.” Melted stone like half-used candles. The keep was not so grand as the tall lord seemed to make it. “Elayne will most pleased to walk with you, though I would like an answer as to your sister’s interest in- the girl.” Not his daughter, even now, he could not claim her as such when her mother’s dishonor at the hands of Qoherys stuck in his throat.

Elayne said nothing but she moved with the Lord’s gesture to take a step between them and towards the Essosi lord. “It would be a pleasure. It would not do to go against Lady Vaera.” She whispered, her voice as soft and willowy as the rest of her. Her silver hair fell about her shoulders as she glanced up at the man. Tall, and looking like a storm. A handsome one. She returned his smile with a small uncertain one worried that she was perhaps too forward with the reaction. “My Lords?” The question in her words lead her to wonder if they would head out now or if the two meant to talk. Elayne for her part was hoping the comment about the Lady Vaera was not too forward, but then the woman was forward enough to run over a herd of oxen and leave them stunned. She also did not wish for the Lord of Harrenhal to anger another dragon. The castle did not have much left to burn.

Vhandyr just stared at the man. “Does it not enrich your family? Does it not provide? Is it not the reason we are here, together, in this very room? Are the walls any less thick than they were when it was completed?” His eyes glittered across the room to Elayne, as he began to feel the burden upon the girl in which Vaera had warned him about. This was Vaera’s way: do good in the world, but do it randomly, usually aiming such good intentions towards someone Vaera thought worthy but overlooked.
His shoulders rose and fell in a self-defeating motion that might have matched too perfectly the tone of the Lord of Harrenhal. “True enough, I am young, and true, too, I am not as wise as some…but it seems more blessing than curse. I suppose I could be overthinking it…oh. My sister? You speak about the woman who has seen more of creation than any other living soul. She borders madness and brilliance, straddling the two as deftly as she does her dragon. I, personally, would not speak to her designs. I could never make scripture from chaos as she does. I would never pretend to.”

When Elayne spoke up about it would not do to go against Vaera, Vhandyr truly blinked at her. Smart girl. Reads people quickly. Moves to subtly manage a room. It was perhaps the worst part of it all…that Vaera was rarely wrong in such matters.

“Shall we, Lady Elayne?”

“It’s history enriches us and provides.” The reply was formal, the words not subtracting from the prior statements. The castle that Harren the Black had built was indeed a noteworthy seat, though one that Lucas could not feel at ease claiming for his own. There was a taint over those half ruined towers. It would be his success of his doom if he played the great game that ruled Westeros correctly or not. “A wise and clever lady.” The woman was trouble as far as the Lord of Harrenhal was concerned, yet to say as much before Vhandyr was asking for trouble he did not want.

One did not need to bait a dragon when it was at your doorstep after all.

There was a mental bit of relief from the Lord as Vhandyr seemed intent on walking with the bastard child of his wife and the former Lord of his land. In truth? He would have rathered the man seen fit to take Jeyne. It would have solved more problems than not. This was not in his power to request and if the Baelyrs man, a noble of Volantis, wished for the wench? So be it, it would take another headache from him, though he could hear the nagging from his wife that Hanna had not been chosen. Stepping back, he let the pale girl pased. He wanted to warn her to do nothing to put his House at risk, but did he really dare with the dragon rider so near?

The pale woman curtsied to the Lord of Volantis her gaze having dropped significantly as she followed his lead. “If you wish, My Lord.” What was it this man wished with her? If he was acting only on the information of his sister… Well that led to more questions that the woman only dreaded. The Lady Vaera had some very strict notions on what was, should be and should not be. It seemed you were either on one side of the stone or the other and if she didn’t like where you were, why then she would see you moved. If the stone between the destination and beginning proved a problem? That stone would be cleaved in two, or tossed into the Blackwater Bay and be done with. Elayne’s pale cheeks flushed slightly at the memory of Osric’s flight. The man she was still avoiding while Vaera had since flown off. She didn’t condemn the woman for leaving her to deal with the Arryn, but it would have been nice to know that Osric had another potential woman to snap at other than her. Damon had long instilled in her that men would often blame women and usually the closest one at hand.

The thoughts went in a circle and led her back the problem. Which was that she could not tell what this Lord Vhandyr Baelrys wanted with her! To walk, he had said. Something that often pertained to talking and usually about a potential marriage or political alliance, neither of which was something a man of his standing would want with her! Then there was the simple answer that he was acting on Vaera’s behalf, which made Elayne wonder what the woman wanted, a she-dragon if ever she had thought to see one, and the poor lass had not a clue as to what Vaera wished! The woman was a meddlesome storm and she apparently was the storm’s latest project!

It was only outside of the chambers and far enough down the vaults of the Red Keep that Vhandyr stopped, took in a deep breath, and looked sidelong to the girl next to him. “Well…that was horribly depressing. I can see why my sister told me to check in on you. The man despises you, you know?”

Of all the things Elayne expected, that was certainly not it. The woman’s sea gaze flicked to Vhandyr in utter shock. He noticed? Well it was hardly like any of the Harroways tried to hide their scorn for a bastard that had been foisted upon them. Her lips thinned as that open gaze dropped again from the handsome face of the man beside her to the stones beneath her slippers. “I do.” Her voice was soft, though her fingers twisted in the cloth of her gown. “He has every right to. I was not… What should have been.” What should have been was her born with dark hair and eyes, even if she had not been his trueborn child, there could always be that doubt. A bit of a whisper that could be played upon for the benefit of the family, rather than Lord Lucas being slapped with his inability to stand up against the ancient laws of the land each day. “I hope you have not been inconvenienced? I told your sister all was well.” That had been and was a lie, but Elayne didn’t want to cause more trouble.

Vhandyr Balaerys chuckled, sadly, “None of us are what we should have been, Elayne.” At her insistence upon what she told Vaera, Vhandyr only regarded the girl as if she seemed to twist uneasily before him. Slowly, gently, he finally nodded. “If you told Vaera that, I highly doubt she believed you.”

Elayne, no longer a lady. It was something of a relief. He no longer was paying her pretense. Though she felt a flush rise across her cheeks and over the delicate bridge of her nose, a trait inherited from her mother, as he commented that Lady Vaera most likely did not believe her. Or was it his laugh that caused her to do so. Did he not as well? Apparently so. Her fingers smoothed at the gown she wore, her eyes stealing glances of him. How could she not? It was rare she got the chance to look upon a man as handsome as he. It was interesting, Elayne thought absently, how she despised her own silver locks and yet could appreciate them on another. “She did not, My Lord.” Her voice was regretful, hesitating slightly before continuing. “The lady believes I do myself a disservice, yet…” She fell silent. How could she point out that given who she was her lot in life was to be expected? It was not as if she could simply walk away. Damon had made her well aware what the life of a whore or a commoner’s wife was like. For all she was used to being a servant for her sisters, she did not wish for such a life if she could avoid it. “There are worse fates. Such as married to Ser Osric Arryn.” She whispered with a flash of uncharacteristic anger in her eyes. Vaera, for all her intended aid, had left Elayne with that very possible fate if the Ser would resign himself, as Lord Lucas saw it, to content himself with such a wife as she. Her blush grew as she stiffened slightly, her anger replacing with startled alarm as her gaze shifted nervously to Vhandyr. A powerful lord and here she was snipping at a worry like the nattering nursemaid that Caitlyn employed. “My Lord, forgive me. I spoke without thinking. I meant no disrespect by it.”

For a moment, he just looked confused by her, “Is there another way to be plainly, honestly, spoken? I hadn’t thought so.” There was no window that opened for her to be able to respond. He simply moved on, shaking the confusion from his eyes, “You do, Elayne, do yourself a disservice—I admit, I do myself some disservices, as well. Sometimes it can’t be helped, sometimes it can be helped…if you see it. I don’t always see it. Perhaps my sister simply wanted you to see it. Men and women react differently to us, my sister and I. Women react much better to me, for…reasons,” he said, flatly, plainly, “Men react much better to her. I think this is why she sent me: to tell you that you do yourself a disservice. Whyever you have the blood you have, the way my sister sees it, it is a thing to be proud of. There's no reason to be a hostage. My nature is good, my nature is to be helpful, so when she asked me to come and see. I see shame, I see dread, and mayhaps self-loathing?”

For a reason only he knew, he chuckled, though he was kind enough to share, “I have no shame in my blood. I have dread, a dread of what comes next for creation, a dread of what could happen because of the blood we share. I cannot admit I hold any self-loathing…no, I suspect the Valyrians got what was coming to them. From what I’ve read, from what I’ve seen, from tales I’ve been told by those who heard it directly from those who lived in the Freehold…they got greedy, they overreached, and in their desperation to maintain, the fire they thought couldn’t burn them anymore, burned down their homes and sent it all crashing down on their heads. But shame? I don’t abuse the blood. I don’t wish to exploit it for power. I just hope to remember the faint echoes of fire and magic, enough that one echo might reach another, which might reach another, so that one day people might hear Valyrian music again, the way I do.”
His eyes had drifted from her, to nothing, to his own thoughts. Upon their return to her, he smiled, small and genuine, almost sheepish. “You have no control over the acts of a Valyrian blooded, dishonorable, Westeros Lord. You have no control over your mother’s fate. You have no control over how your House treats you…you DO control how you see yourself, how you see your silvery hair, and your magic-touched eyes. Go easy on yourself, your past, and determine what you want and how to get it. In the meantime, would you attend this melee with me? I must go to support my friend, and to ensure he is treated fairly.”

For her part Elayne listen. Her gaze fixed on him through lowered lashes. He spoke of many thing and far too many of them hit too close to her heart for the young woman to deny the blush that rose across her pale cheeks. It was no pale rose but crimson as she gave the Balerys lord a considering look. Who was he to speak so openly? A lord and one of high rank. A rider of a dragon for she had seen the great beast wing over this keep of red stone.

“You speak wisely,” She answered softly. “And kindly. Though I fear that while I wish to find your words to be truth, that circumstance holds me to remain as I am. There are few places a woman can go with no family or husband.” She admitted, it was that more than anything that had held her prisoner in the fortress of Harrenhal. For Damon had explained those perils, and taunted her with the Nightmares they conjured. “If you wish, Lord Vhandyr, I would be pleased and delighted to join you.” The silent ‘though I am only a minor woman’ in her mouth unspoken.

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.
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