A fine day’s hunting so far, beginning in the chill of the morning when the sand was still wet with dew, and continuing now as noon approaches, but the desert does not have the blazing heat of summer in it, and even the mist has not entirely melted away. Still air, and fair, cool day, and swift hounds barking and baying to be let loose, and falcons, falcons and hawks to take down pigeons in mid-air.
And now? The huntsmen have led the prince’s train—nigh on a hundred strong, all the best and finest of the court, and then a hundred more of grooms and servants, porters and handlers—to a desert spring, a cool and shady place with fresh, sweet water… and birds, scores of them, roosting amid palms. Marence surveys this, as the chief huntsman points it out, and he tells those nearest by, “Time for bows, my lords and ladies. The huntsmen will go around and flush them our way.”
Joris has been riding quite away from the prince’s party, his light coloured robes swirling around him, his helmet wrapped in bright silks, but he carries no bow today, clearly intending to leave the field to others. However that does not mean he will not be able to cause mischief, or sneak in a wily coment. He raises a skin with lemonwater, drinking deeply and seeing who is around.
Robed in silks the colour of sand, with the cloak thrown about her shoulders and the thin veil loosely wrapped about her neck no different in hue, Samara might have blended well with the desert landscape were it not for her fiery hair. Neatly braided as the hunters set out this morning it has long since become a good deal wilder. With little skill at hunting, she has taken her enjoyment in the riding, indulging in a few races across the dunes when given the opportunity. Now she brings her chestnut mare to a halt and slides down from the saddle, then leads her mount a little off to one side to keep out of the way for the hunters.
Given leave by the princess to take herself to the hunt, the lady Lilah Gargalen has gone to hunt and gloried in it, at the hawk on wrist and yew-and-horn bow strapped to the side of her saddle. A pretty picture, fiery red and gold and deepest black with hooded cloak, and veil across her nose and mouth to keep the sand away; a heavy leather gauntlet on one arm has often been the perch of a falcon. Now, her eyes glitter with interest at the Prince’s words, and with the bird back in the care of the falconers, she dismounts and leads the bay sandsteed from her cousin’s stable to the care of a groom. Her fingers reach up, letting the veil hang aside, and then they reach towards the bow, tugging it off the saddle to string it.
A ramshackle gang of unsavoury looking riders - wearing, among less celebrated designs, liveries attaching them variously to the Manwoody, Toland, and Uller Houses of Dorne - threads its way unsteadily about, but with a certain shiftless speed. So it is that Cael Manwoody finds himself, after all, in a position to overhear his Prince’s exhortation; he takes the advice with a rueful chuckle, easily understood by the rogues and dastards who ride with him.
For this mish-mash of leathered, dusty scoundrels, the sweepings of Lady Tamsyn’s manse and Lord Aryard’s train both, have hardly a respectable bow between them. Yet it is agreed that their best armament should go to their worst shot. Cael will be buying - or earning - the drinks later; he is, by courtesy at least, a lord’s son; and it amuses them all - Cael included - to watch the elaborate process by which he tends to shoot and miss.
Blaise Dalt has come all alone, except for the falcon perched on his arm. He stares a bit at the entourages surrounding the other hunters and murmurs something to his bird and chuckles. Nodding a greeting to whoever might spare a look for the young heir of Lemonwood.
Wearing a sapphire robe over a light weight cream tunic and pants, and a veil of the same color on her face, Tamara Fowler sits comfortably atop her sandsteed. Sapphires set in a silver rope make up her necklace, and a ring of similar qualities sits on her thumb. Her long sandy blond hair as been braided and snaked about the back of her head, held in place by wire. Anklets with silver disks, and a bracelet of similar qualities jingle with every movement Tamara makes. As the announcement is made Tamara takes her bow in her leather strapped hand, she stays to the outside of the group listening intently to the words that make their way to her ears.
Liane has ridden with the nobles, though of course not with the royal party. Her black hair tied back, she had come in robes of sunny yellow and firey red. Not normally one for hawking, Liane mostly just watched that part of the proceedings. Now at the oasis and promoted by the Prince, she collects her own bow and quiver.
With the prince’s word, there’s movement among the huntsmen—a handful ride out, palfreys climbing up a dune and then disappearing over its top to go and circle around. The prince himself is dismounting, a groom hurrying to take the reins of his beautiful sandsteed, while a squire comes forward with a double-curved bow and quiver of arrows. All up and down the group, there are those dismounting, taking up their own bows, though Prince Rhodry—who’s been drinking wine whenever he has a thirst—keeps to his horse. His bastard son, Lewyn Sand, is somewhere in the back of the lot, not minded by his father.
“My lord of Dalt,” Prince Marence calls to Blaise Dalt, motioning him nearer. “Shall you try the falcon? It should have good odds, with as many pigeons as there are over there.” The birds, briefly disturbed by the baying of the hounds and the sight of so many people in the distance, seem settled when he now gestures towards them. “We’ll have squab until our bellies are like to burst.”
Blaise nudges his horse closer to the prince when he is being called and nods. “He’s young, but so am I.”, the youth smiles, “I hope this hunt is a good learning experience for both of us. I trained him myself in Lemonwood and brought him here with me now.” He proudly runs a gloved finger over the falcon’s speckled chest.
The Toland twins are among the hunters dismounting and reading their bows, though their elder brother—Lord Toland since the war—remains mounted and keeping the company of young Rosarya Sand. There are bets being made between the twins, of course, though their attempts to have their brother side with either of them fail.
With her horse nipping at a patch of desert grass that retains some green thanks to the nearby spring. Samara leans idly against her mount’s side, one arm slung across the sandsteed’s neck. She pushes a few wild, red curls of hair out of her eyes and sips from a waterskin as she watches the hunters wait for the first birds to take to the air.
Lilah watches her cousin of Lemonwood with a hint of amusement, though determination is more set in her eyes. “You should have at it, coz,” her voice calls to Blaise, “and see if that bird in truth is all you hoped.” It has been infrequent in recent weeks and months that she has had the opportunity to ride and hunt as she would wish, and so after speaking, Lilah limbers up her arms, pulling carefully on the sunwarmed bow. Satisfied, she pats the quiver of arrows at her side, and sets one horn-tipped end of the bow into the sand, resting none of her weight on it, and watching.
As one of his unorthodox ‘retainers’ tosses over the cheap and ancient ashen short-bow that is their party’s pride, Cael catches in and strings it up with the dexterity that fits his gnarled hands so much better than his fop’s figure. He is not a farper for nothing, and even bowstrings sing to him, though of arrows he is less fond. When he has swung down from his black, new, and barely legal stallion, he exchanges a grin with one of the off-duty Uller men; “If only her ladyship could see us, now, eh?”
Cael can speak the idiom of the smallfolk as soon as breathe their same air, and the man-at-arms cackles. To anyone interested it will seem obvious that this outing was not exactly sanctioned by Cael’s paramour and patroness…
Looking about him to take his bearings, the Manwoody freeharper espies the Martell cadet taking another swig of wine. “I’ll shoot to your health, Prince Rhodry!” he suggests, with an acid curve to his grin…
As the prince dismounts so does Tamara, smiling as she adjusts the quiver at her side. Her maid takes the reigns of her sandsteed, she thanks her with a nod. As the huntsmen ride out, a hand goes to her brow. She watches the sky for a moment, looking for the pigeons that will likely fly up, and the falcons that will take them down.
Liane inspects her bow, a recurved and composite thing of horn and wood and sinew, painted red and yellow. It seems to be all in order, as the lady nods in satisfaction. She shifts the quiver over her shoulder, trying to get the balance just so. She offers Lilah a smile, then looks back to where the men have gone to flush the game towards them.
“My health?” Rhodry says, from the back of his blood-red stallion. “Why would you shoot on that, Manwoody? Men have aimed arrows _against_ my health, to little success; I doubt the other way will be any more successful.” He shakes his head, though he smiles a smug smile as well, and then with his knees urges his horse nearer to the front of the group—grooms and servants and lesser knights making way of him—and his brother… only to turn, to more readily reach a clearer area, near where Samara Sand is. “Try a bird, Samara. It’s likelier to catch a pigeon than flinging your horse at them will.”
Joris dismounts too to watch the show, grinning at the acid remarks being exchanged. He moves towards Tamara, smiling. “And how are you enjoying the hunt so far, my Lady?” part of his visage is still hidden by the silks. The ladies might engage in falconry and that’s always a show to be followed
Tilting her head to look up at the still-mounted Rhodry, Samara lazily arches a red brow. “It is odd, is it not, to go hunting and let a bird do the work for you? They are splendid animals, though it seems they say little about your skill as a hunter.” She puts aside her waterskin and shrugs. “But I am only just learning. Perhaps there is something I am missing.”
Prince Marence attends to Blaise Dalt’s words, and he smiles—a kind smile, nothing at all like Rhodry’s cruel expressions—at what the youth says. “I had my first bird at twelve years. A red-tailed hawk all the way from the Dothraki sea, a gift from my mother. A handsome thing, and swift to stoop and pluck a bird right from the air.” He pauses, brow furrowed in recollection, and then he chuckles. “I asked the maester for a Dothraki name to give it. Shierak, he suggested—their word for star, or so one of his books told him. The creature still had the Dothraki sea in it, though—it refused to return, one day.”
Blaise chuckles softly when he hears Lilah’s call and nods into her general direction, though his main attention is on the prince. After all it’s not often he gets a chance to talk to the man. He nods and smiles along to the story of the Dothraki bird - at least until its sad conclusion. “Ah, I’m sorry to hear that. But as I’ve heard, the Dothraki do treasure their freedom. Much like us.”, he adds and gives his bird a sceptical look. “So far he’s always returned to me though. He’s a good bird. I call him Raider.”
Cheerful disdain seems to Cael quite an equable attitude coming from Prince Rhodry - it is, after all, at least cheerful. As the prince’s train moves on, Cael flashes his uneven teeth in a smile at Lewyn the little princely bastard; the boy has a remarkably decent look to him, given his sire, and Cael - who earned the estate of bastardy - has always respected the true ignobility that inherited it. His darting glance of dark warmth settles now further back, to where an old acquaintance, Tamara Fowler, converses with a strange knight; but tearing himself from the more interesting affairs of humans, he resigns himself to following the flights of birds for a short while yet. A couple of spectacular misses and dishonour will have been satisfied.
A wink flashes from Lilah to Liane. “We’ll see if your lessons have served me well, my lady, or if I do them great disservice, for truly there is no fault with the teacher! Perhaps I can blame the bow?” A grin, cheerful and bold, but a shift of her jaw shows that for all the boldness, there is a hint of worry and a desire to show well, and so she stands, waiting, watching her cousin and the Prince, the lady Liane, and the others - and an eye on the birds.
Having found her feet after the ride, Tamara drops her hand and moves to stand with the others. She is stopped though by a familiar voice, “Ser Joris, good day for a hunt no?” She grins, “The ride out here was splendid, it felt good to be in a saddle again. I know my steed appreciated the exercise, what of you?” She asks of the Yronwood knight, before slowly walking on to join the hunt, looking back as if to ask him to follow, “Do you intend to hunt ser?” Tamara’s eyes forward she catches the glimpse of Cael, giving him a smile that he may have missed, though a glimpse is all it was and eyes went quickly to the sky.
“Quite the eager gathering,” Tanyth remarks to her fellow hunters as she readies her bow, her twin doing the same at her side. “The prince is right, no doubt we will have pigeons to feed us all quite splendidly. Roasted pigeon, stuffed pigeon, pigeon pie…” She trails off with a laugh. “I may either make myself very hungry before the hunt is over or I will be done with pigeon altogether.”
Still finding concentration on the errand at hand rather difficult, Cael has started to regale the pack of knaves at his side with an anecdote - not on this occasion set to music or even ballad form - about a bastard brother at Kingsgrave who fed his three elder sisters their favourite brachets baked in a layer of false pigeon pie. The tale goes down well, even if its moral is somewhat hard to pin down to the events of this morning.
Joris grins. “I have enjoyed the ride too..” he teases, though probably she menat his horse. “No, I shall not hunt today, I prefer watching those more competent. Let us compete with lance of sword and I’ll be there..today…I shall be a spectator. He looks at her. “Your attire does not seem to favor archery aither, are you going to delight us with it, or with falconry?” He asks before nodding in Cael’s direction
In the distance behind the small desert oasis, where the birds roost, a rider can be seen appearing from a defile—and then another, and another. The birds take no notice. But then the group of huntsmen spread out their line and start to approach, first at a trot… and then, half way there, with a sudden whoop and gallop! The birds make their warning sounds, shift about where they sit… and suddenly, in a mass, they take to the air, flying straight to the crowd of noble hunters. Within seconds, they’ll be flying above.
“Let slip the birds! The confusion will make the birds aimless as they fly in a panic!” Prince Marence cries then, now readying himself, nocking arrow to string. “And watch your marks, when you let loose with your bows!” His household knights are about, all with bows in their hands, some already taking their aim. And Rhodry? Distracted with Samara, to whom he was beginning to say, “The skill’s in the training of it, and—” when the huntsmen started off, and now still on horseback he neatly spins ‘round and spurs the horse ahead to a better vantage point.
At the Prince’s word and signal, Lilah pulls a bird-arrow banded in the Gargalen colours from her quiver, and with another grin and wink to Liane, and a nod to her cousin Blaise, sets the arrow to the bowstring and takes her aim, arm not quite drawn back to fire, but merely… waiting, ever waiting.
When the prince’s cry rings out, Blaise remoes the leather hood of his falcon and gives him a little nudge. “Do your worst, Raider.”, he whispers as the bird flies up into the air. With so many pigeons around, Raider doesn’t waste much time in circling and goes in straight for his prey, swooping down like an arrow onto a hapless bird.
Liane hits the bird! The arrow strikes it graze a wing, leaving it able to fly on to safety.
Walking slowly as she speaks to Joris, half of Tamara’s attention is with him, the other to the dunes. She chuckles at the man’s words and takes a look at her attire, she nods as she speaks, “My attire is for riding comfort ser, it has served it’s purpose for that to be sure. As for bow,” she ponders that for a moment, “I think it should be alright, I am not the greatest of archers, but when I do practice it is in robes.” She thinks about that before nodding as if to confirm. “You would not be the only noble here to spectate ser, at least, I do not think.” Tamara stops speaking as the prince calls out. “Ah, very good,” she says to Joris nodding to excuse herself, she moves herself to the front where the archers stand. Pulling back and taking aim she waits, as the plethora of birds that come about she looses an arrow when she has one in sights.
Tamara hits the bird! The arrow strikes it and pierces a wing, forcing it to the ground.
Liane draws an arrow and knocks it to the string in a smooth, practiced motion. She raises her bow to the sky, draws shaft and string back, aims at the flock of birds, and lets fly.
Blaise has connected.
Relaxing in a cushion of post-narrative mirth, Cael catches the surprisingly respectful nod of Tamara’s current cavalier, whose apparel he now recognise with belated knowledge as displaying the portcullis of Yronwood. “Very good morn to you, ser,” he calls over cheerily, but some of his scurrilous companions are looking mutinous that he hogs the short-bow while chatting with old and new noble connections. Smiling apologetically, and with a broad open grin in Tamara’s direction too, he prepares to act at last. In both senses, to do and to pretend; he really has got very rusty and has little clue how to bring down his prey. He aims for a good fat pigeon, though. Easier to hit and pleasanter to eat; what can possibly go wrong?
Cael hits the bird! The arrow strikes it graze a wing, leaving it able to fly on to safety.
Almost at the same time Tanyth and Tamlyn let fly their arrows as the flock of pigeons fill the sky. Moments later, a triumphant call from the Black Tempest; her arrow has struck true and brought bird down. Her brother has been less lucky, however, and he ruefully shakes his head and takes out another arrow.
Joris would start to reply to Taara but as she dashes forward and lets fly he applauds quietly, his eyes also marking the progress of the other, all the while taking a sip or two of lemonwater. He grins towards Cael Manwoody, and pats the mane of his restless horse. “Hush, boy, hush, let them have their fun..”
Having opted against Rhodry’s suggestion to make use of a bird, Samara pulls the reins over her horse’s head and mounts up again, springing into the saddle as easily as if she was born to it. Already having had enough of resting and standing still, the mare eagerly responds to a light nudge of her legs and canters up a dune to give her a better place to watch the shooting from.
Having taken one down Tamara similes brightly, with a bit of shock and excitement dancing about her feline-esque eyes. Turning this expression back to the Yronwood knight, “What good fun,” she gleams. Before turning back to her hunting, she spots Cael’s attentions, smiling she nods respectfully to her old friend, and Lady Tamsyn’s paramour. She turns back to the birds, looking for a particularly thick bunch, when she has found it she pulls back and aims. With a light thrum of the bowstring she looses her arrow.
Tamara hits the bird! The arrow strikes it graze a wing, leaving it able to fly on to safety.
Cael’s true foul of a shot - the worst possible eventuality, neither a smooth curvacious miss, nor an unlikely victory - is forgotten as the harper joins Tanyth in her cheers of glory; he has always liked Tamsyn’s raven-fletched niece, for perfectly discernable reasons (even if she was damned rude about his playing when they last met at Sunspear). Flushed by the good omen of her success, buoyed also by the encouragement of Tamara and Joris’s surveillance, he tries again in a veritable quick-shot of forlorn hope…
Cael hits the bird! The arrow strikes it but does little more than clip a few feathers.
While Prince Rhodry’s quick to the mark—his first arrow striking a wing and bringing the bird down almost his horses hooves—Marence takes his time, letting one bird fly by, then another for the falcon about to down it. And then he lets loose.
Marence hits the bird! The arrow strikes it graze a wing, leaving it able to fly on to safety.
Raider swoops down with a pigeon firmly in his claws and finally returns to Blaise, perching proudly on the young man’s shoulder as he drops the pigeon into his lap. “Well done, my boy!”, Blaise praises him and slips him a dead mouse for a reward, then places the pigeon carefully into a saddle bag. Giving Raider a break, he just watches for a while as the others shoot arrows.
Elsewhere, others have more luck than the Prince of Dorne—a hawk screams as it stoops and knocks a pigeon to the earth, its talons through its neck and body, and Lilah Gargalen’s arrows find one bird and then, after a try or two more, sends another tumbling to the ground. Arrows fly through the sky, sometimes singly, sometimes in pairs, sometimes half a dozen or more all at once, and pigeons—some flapping a wing and going in circles on the ground, others quite dead—are on the ground. But while the shooting is going on, none of the huntsmen or hounds are let loose to collect them.
When the bird is merely grazed, Tamara gives a bit of a pout. Determined though she lifts her bow again in a attempt to chase the disappointment away. “I knew I should have practiced more,” she says to herself with a bit of regret. The birds are still coming, but so are the falcons. Tamara takes great care on where she aims, so as to not hit one of these fine creatures. Venturing another try, she spots a alone bird on the outskirts of the flock. Confident she looses another arrow with a soft thrum.
Tamara hits the bird! The arrow strikes it graze a wing, leaving it able to fly on to safety.
Soon, Cael will have to yield to the pressure of the hobbledehoys surrounding him, renounce his bow and leave it to more seasoned predators. For the moment, he enacts a complex skit, during which he pretends that the bow is a sceptre, he himself the Prince of Dorne, and his worthy ‘friends’ all great Lords. “No, Wyl! Halt, Yronwood!” he exclaims. “I shall never, never, abdicate. I had rather perish in a last plunge of deathless glory, and be immortalised by great singers like that witty fellow Cael Manwoody.” Striking a very noble posture, he proceeds to enact his defiant words in a final, desperate attempt, for which, in a spirit of devilry, he picks the victim Tamara - despite her name and sigil - just failed to bring down…
Cael hits the bird! The arrow strikes it graze a wing, leaving it able to fly on to safety.
As the hunters hunt, to the south—the direction of Sunspear—a pair of riders crest a hill, and after a pause continue down at a swift pace. But all eyes are elsewhere, and do not yet take notice.
Marence hits the bird! The arrow strikes it graze a wing, leaving it able to fly on to safety.
The second round of arrows from the Toland twins fly through the air. Tanyth’s once again strikes a bird, though its a closer call than last time. Still, she brings it down, and so does her brother this time around. “Better, Tamlyn,” she calls to him. “But I am still set to win that wager.”
For Tamara, it has now gotten humorous, she chuckles as she loses a bit of interest in the hunt. She lowers her bow for now and walks back to Cael and Joris, she is shaking her head as she moves towards them. Giggling at Cael’s impromptu show, “Must it always be mummery Cael? Tell me if you will, how is Lady Tamsyn? Also Cael, will you tell her I ask of her, and to expect a messenger soon, I have gifts I brought with me to Sunspear. ” she Grins at him. Letting Cael get back to his sport, her eyes flitting to Joris, “I hit one ser, I suppose that is not so bad.” She quirks a grin in his direction, “I should be able to come see your daughter soon, have you told her she will be getting some help?”
Liane returns grumbling, having found a new bowstring at last. Back at a suitable shooting spot she puts one end of the bow ona solid spot and pulls down to bend the thing so she might slip the end of the string on the other end. That and most of her muttered cursing done, she stands upright again, hoping to get a few more shots in.
When the first round of arrows has been fired, Blaise releases his falcon again to have him go after another pigeon. Since many of the birds were so clever to scatter by now, he takes a longer while to circle and find some prey.
Liane hits the bird! The arrow strikes it graze a wing, leaving it able to fly on to safety.
Joris laughs softly at the Cael show then nods towards Tamara. “Aye, you did well, my Lady..” his eyes shine brighter at the mention of his daughter. “Yes, that would be lovely…I am sure she will enjoy it, and I will be delighted!” he says, bowing courteously
From atop a small dune, Samara watches the hunters bring down bird after bird, whether by arrow or with their swift falcons. Her mare snorts and paws the sand with a small, hard hoof, even tossing her head for added emphasis. She would much rather run, she tells her mistress, though that wish is gently denied with soft hands. When the mare goes on to stomp her hind feet in indignation, there’s a laugh and some chiding words in one of the dialects of the Free Cities from Samara.
The horsemen to the south draw nearer, and some of the guardsmen at the tail of the company finally break their gaze away from the hunting to catch sight of them. A few looks, and quiet talk among them as some loosen the swords in their scabbards, and another goes forward to where Prince Marence is having indifferent success at the hunt—unlike his brother, Rhodry, who’s a surer hand with the bow, and seems more comfortable with it on horseback than the prince does afoot.
Marence misses the bird by an inch.
Tall and somber as always Galwell sits near the rear of the group bow in hand and all his arrows in his quiver. The Lord Bailiff watches the proceedings with a keen eye from atop his mount, the long desert hued cloak that’s wrapped around him blowing in the wind.
As a pigeon drops from the sky and lands to her feet Tamara, a bit shocked, takes a few steps back nearly knocking into Joris as he bows, “My apologies ser, it is just, well, it nearly landed on my head.” Tamara twists up her nose in disgust as the bird flaps wildly on the ground. Looking away to Joris she smiles at his recognition, “I should be delighted to assist her, it is my pleasure, with practice she will be quite proficient in formal dance when I am through. At least ser, that is my hope.” Her eyes glance back down to bird that had -just a few moments prior- been flapping and moving about in circles, now it lies motionless. Tamara sighs a bit, thankful the thing stopped moving and also that it does not suffer any longer. Her eyes dance between the guardsmen and Joris now, spotting the quiet conversation and obvious tension.
Liane takes aim and fires, only to wing a bird. She shakes her head and twangs the string, testing the new one. “Has the dew gotten into all my strings? Hmm. Perhaps I need to strangle the maker.” she says, mostly to herself. “Ah, well. At least Caitrin isn’t here to see.” She collects another arrow and looks for remaining targets.
A curse from under his breath, as Marence sees another arrow fly just past a bird. He turns to Blaise Dalt to remark to him, “I should have tried a bird as well, it seems. You and your bird seem to have done better than I and my bow.” And then a man clears his throat, and it’s one of the guards. “My prince,” the man says, after Marence beckons him to speak, “riders from the south—Ser Emeric, one of them, if I’m not mistaken.” The prince nods at that, casually, already turning them back to the hunt. “Word from Ser Mavros, I expect,” he says aloud… and a hint of happiness can be heard in the tone, even as he tries to school himself to giving nothing away. He was happy the day before, as well, and the rumor has run that Ser Mavros’s recent raven to him revealed he was making great headway with Lady Yronwood…
Raider swoops down on another pigeon at last and brings it back to Blaise as well. “Well done, my sweet.”, the young man whispers and takes the dead pigeon from its beak to put into the saddle bag as well, then offers him another mouse. When Marence speaks to him, he lifts his head and looks at the prince: “Perhaps indeed, my prince. I’m very proud of him today.”
Liane’s attention is drawn at the mention of her uncle, lately sent off as the Prince’s envoy. She has said to more than one person she wished she had been sent along as well. “News?” She asks, but still to noone in particular. She moves in the Prince’s direction, hoping to hear a bit more.
The news being delivered to the prince attract the attention of several of the hunters, the Toland twins among them. Breaking off from the shooting—grudgingly in the case of Tamlyn, as Tanyth still has the lead—the pair draw nearer to the prince. “Is it word from Yronwood, do you think?” Tamlyn asks of his sister.
Tamara’s suspicion s calmed as the prince’s demeanor is still favorable. Turning attentions back to Joris completely now she smiles, “I should like to meet the girl if that is alright, mayhaps later today, if the hour of our return is not too late that is.” A small flock of fat birds are in Tamara’s sights, “Please let me know if this is acceptable, if you will excuse me ser, I see a flock that wishes to meet my arrow.” She grins before taking up her previous position near the front of the crowd. She pulls back an arrow on her bow, waiting patiently until the fattest one is in her sights, having it, she looses the arrow.
Tamara hits the bird! The arrow strikes it graze a wing, leaving it able to fly on to safety.
Watching from a slight distance, Samara spots the gathering forming around Prince Marence and nudges her mare forward. Trotting down the sandy slope, she moves in nearer to the other nobles. No wonder, of course, if she might have a particular interest in hearing the news.
Nudging his mount with his heels Galwell moves towards the group gathering around the Prince.
Blaise is near the prince anyway. As the others start gathering around, he places the leather cap back over his falcon’s head to prevent the bird from gettting nervous with so many people around.
Kicking the sand lightly, Tamara looks to her bow and curses under her breath. As another noble walks by her she looks to where he is going. The gathering she had once seen as small, is now growing exponentially. Curiosity peaked she wanders over to see what the fuss is about.
A last shot from Prince Marence, and another shake of his head. His bow and quiver is handed to a squire, and after gazing at the ground littered with arrows and birds, he orders the chief huntsman, “Once the last of the lords and ladies is done, have the takings collected. Mark the fletches on the arrows, so that to each goes their own.” The man responds with a bow, and starts shouting orders to the other huntsmen. More and more of the hunters begin to finish their hunting as they see the prince is done, and others still for the news. Prince Rhodry, having ridden to the periphery of the party, sends out a last arrow… and then, after a glance over, shrugs and moves in to use his arrows to finish off a few flapping, struggling birds, bringing them a swift end.
“My prince! Word from Yronwood!” Ser Emeric Santagar says, kneeling before Marence, who smiles at him… and mistakes Emeric’s urgent tone.
“Has Ser Mavros finally convinced Lady Yronwood to reason?” he asks, jovially. “He took his time about it—not a week there, and all that trouble done with.”
A frown crosses Tanyth’s face as she overhears the messenger and she shoots a sharp glance at her twin, hastening her stride a little to draw nearer to the prince.Plainly, she would like to speak up, to ask the messenger to go on…but one does not do that in the Prince’s presence. Not even with such a reputation as the Black Tempest.
The tone of Ser Emeric -to Tamara at least- seems anything but celebratory. Tamara raises a brow at the princes happy, yet seemingly over confident demeanor. She listens, wishing the Knight would continue.
A hesitation from Ser Emeric—he clears his throat aloud, perhaps to clear the dust of his swift journey from Sunspear from it—and then he says, “It’s Lady Yronwood, my prince. She’s written. She’s…” Another moment, and then it spills from him, “She’s seized Ser Mavros, accusing him of having attempted to convice her bannermen to betray her. Some of his escort—our own men—have been killed, the rest seized with him.”
There is a moment of utter silence following Ser Emeric’s announcement—one in which ripples of shock seem to spread outwards through the hunting party. In that silence, a man can be heard to say softly, “Bloody hells.”
It is the Sand Dog, his sandsilk over-robe dusted with the sand of the hunt. And then, he spurs his horse forward a pace, another, a third, and says flatly to Marence, “Lady Yronwood has broken your peace for good and all, my prince.”
“Seven hells!” Its the less…fiery of the Toland twins that reacts in such a fashion to the news—grave, indeed—from Ser Emeric, whereas Tanyth for once seems left without a comment to make but an unusually troubled look on her face. “I fear you are right, Ser Laurent. There’s no other way to see the matter,” Tamlyn goes on to say, shaking his head.
“Lady…. no. Why?” Liane moans. She moves towards the Prince again. “My prince, forgive my interruption.” but still she interrupts anyway, or tries to. “Let me speak to her. I may be able to speak some sense…” But then Laurent has drowned her out.
Joris raises his head from where he was standing quietlt, the Yronwood knight grinning, but saying nothing for now, there are too many Martells around. he watches the Sand Dog, and his grin grows wider. Apparently things in Dorne are going to get hotter.
Icy eyes flick to Liane as the announcement is made, a look of concern mixed with sympathy crosses her face. Unable to say or do anything that would help she remains in place, briefly taking glances at Lady Liane when she can manage it. The silence is deafening, though broken, no shattered by the Sand Dog’s comment, “Seven Hells indeed.” Tamara says quietly under her breath while looking back to Joris, worry laced on her face.
Blaise simply nods along with Laurent, further words unnecessary. His eyes drift towards the grinning Yronwood and he glares at the man.
The news spreads from like rings on the water, taking only moments to reach the outer edges of the gathering where Samara waits atop her horse. For a moment, she furrows her brow in concentration. Then her expression hardens, her mouth pressed together in a thin line. Below her, the mare senses that something is wrong, snorting and side-stepping uneasily.
And Marence? Shock, first of all—his mouth half-open, his expression unbelieving. And then ... anger, anger as he rarely shows. “Ser Mavros assured me in his last message that he was on the verge of a settlement!” he shouts, a fist clenched. He checks himself and then, after a moment, says, “Someone fetch Rhodry from his bloodletting,” before he turns back to the messenger, voice now an icy dagger, as everyone speaks at once, as there are those who shout for revenge.
“Is that all?” he asks Ser Emeric.
“My prince, she demands reparation, and hostages, and ransoms for Ser Mavros and all of his men. _And_ certain… guarantees. Otherwise, the Boneway will be shut, she writes, and not the Seven themselves will open it once more so long as she draws breath.”
Galwell, perhaps unsurprisingly, seems unmoved by this news. The tall dark eyed knight listens and watches carefully taking note of people’s reactions as he does. When Liane speaks, he urges his horse closer, though whether to support her or to better hear what she has to say, he does not mention.
Liane looks down, closing her eyes again. “What did he do?” she asks, though doubtful anyone can hear her clearly among the shouting. She looks up after a moment, spying Galwell. She shakes her head sadly, then watches the prince in the hopes that he heard her earlier.
Unexpected, perhaps, but its Samara who turns her fretting mare about and gallops the short distance to where Rhodry is putting pigeons out of their misery, oblivious to the news that have just been delivered to his brother. “Marence wants you. Lady Yronwood has seized his envoy,” she tells him as she brings the horse to a sharp halt a few paces away. There’s a flatness to her voice.
He can’t have seen the Yronwood knight’s smile for Joris is behind him—and yet the Sand Dog half-turns in his saddle to glance at his half-brother. It’s a long, unreadable look, dark eyes lidded—and at the end of it, he turns back, his thoughts his own to know.
At least when it comes to Joris. On the matter of Lady Yronwood, there is no such reticence.
That is to Liane, a few paces away; he at least has heard her. “And what, my lady,” he calls back, “makes you think Mavros Uller did anything save what the prince sent him to do?” He turns back to Marence, then—and though he does not shout, doesn’t show the anger some among the others are showing, there is a tautness in him as he leans back to says to the prince, “It must be the spears, my prince.”
Her body visibly jolts as the prince loses his nerve, she winces, still maintaing a troubled look to Joris. Turning away she scans the faces of those around Yronwood knight and herself, at least she can be grateful she is not standing directly next to him. As hard glares are striking even a touch of fear to her eyes. Tensions heat a bit and Tamara averts her gaze, staring solemnly at the ground, only breaking vigil to look up to the lady Liane. Saddened for the girl, that expression is clear and plain on her face.
Liane snorts. “I was not there, Ser Laurent. Neither were you. Still, my lady-aunt directed me to offer Uller spears if they were needed to deal with the Boneway. They will still at the Prince’s command.” She looks back to Marence. “I beg you, my prince. If there are to be spears, give me leave to offer the lady one more chance to bend the knee… or if it pleases you I will wield the spear myself. She would have been my sister. I should be the one to slay her if it comes to that.”
Ser Laurent’s remark to Liane causes Marence to stir, as he glowers. “The Lady of Yronwood has drummed up this accusation, ser. Had Ser Mavros’s mission failed,” the prince says, “he was to send word, and return directly to reveal the disposition of Yronwood. This claim of—what was it, Ser Emeric?”
“Attempting to suborn her bannermen, my prince,” the palace knight replies.
“Foolishness,” Marence responds, emphatically. “Lady Yronwood’s gone too far. The spears? Aye, the spears.” He looks then, to see where his brother is.
As it happens, Rhodry is speaking to Samara. “His envo—you mean, _Mavros_?” he asks her, incredulous… and then, of course, grinning at the prospect of blood. “At last. And, Samara—do not doubt Ser Mavros will be free of the mad woman soon enough.” He doesn’t swear to it, though. And then he’s off, racing off at a gallop for the party, a lone pigeon flapping awkwardly in circles left forgotten on the killing field, in his wake.
Joris laughs loudly, not afraid to draw attention to himself. “Hear that? Uller spears ready? i there anyone in doubt that this was all prepared? that Mavros Uller must have offered impardonable provocation hoping for this result?” He laughs again, his voice carrying. “Look Dorne, how the Martells and the Ullers look to entrap the Bloodroyal!”
Tamara shakes her head as Joris speaks up, shooting him a glance the pleads for him to quite. Far too many Martells indeed, and the man was about to start a battle on this spot with all of them. Slowly Tamara inches away, looking for a place to leave the proximity of the Yronwood knight and disappear into the crowd.
“As you say, my prince,” the Sand Dog inclines his head to Marence. “There are—”
A moment’s pause as Rhodry nears; he glances at the younger prince and smiles at him—a brief, almost feral smile—then continues to the older: “There are trade ships anchored at Planky Town I can commandeer easily enough. If it is to be the spears, we can more swiftly than Lady Yronwood might expect—up the Greenblood or along the coast. It would—”
Again, he pauses, but this time it is because Joris’ laugh interrupts. And in its wake, there are cries of anger at that brazen accusation. A second time the Sand Dog turns to look at his half-brother—and this time, he says impersonally to Marence, “And if she has Mavros Uller and his men, it would behoove us to take any Yronwood men here into custody, my prince. Hostages to balance hers.”
In overhearing Marence’s response—perhaps especially in overhearing him call for his brother—Tanyth exchanges a look with her brother. Anger is threatening to replace the look of concern initially sparked by Ser Emeric’s news, though it is held back as she spots Rhodry nearing at a gallop. “And there is the only one who is likely to be pleased by the news,” she tells Tamlyn, only to find her words made false by Ser Joris’s loud exclamation. “There is more than one fool present, I see,” she calls back.
“That will bring out Alyx too, my prince. Let me give them a chance to kneel, or to die at my hand.” Liane continues, but she doesn’t even know the man is listening or cen even hear her in the shouting.
Shouts and cries get louder Tamara finally finds a spot to slide through and sighs once she is on the other side of the ‘wall.’ She does not stop there though, she keeps moving toward her maid, who holds the reigns of her horse, bumping into this noble or that, stating her apologies as she goes. Finally she makes it, and happily she mounts her steed.
Prince Rhodry arrives at a gallop, and near runs a man over as he sharply curbs his horse, bringing it to a half-rearing halt, the bit hard and sharp in its mouth. And just so, does he overhear Ser Joris—hard not to, when the man speaks so openly and so boldly. There’s shouts at him, curses, even men reaching for swords—and Rhodry, tall in the saddle, bow still in hand, is reaching for an arrow. “Look,” he remarks, staring at Joris Yronwood. “Someone missed a pigeon.” He nocks arrow to string, and starts to draw—
A short, sharp command from Marence, but it works well enough—Rhodry pauses, bow partly drawn. And then Marence turns his brown-eyed glare on Joris Yronwood. “That is treason you speak, ser,” he says aloud, and the crowd grows quieter at the word. “Give up your sword and you shall have safe conduct to Sunspear.” And with a nod to Ser Emeric, the household knight converge on the Yronwood, who spits out more fiery words ... and then, roughly, unsheathes and throws down his sword, and suggesting that soon enough the prince will have sight of all the YRonwood swords he pleases, if he continues so.
As Yronwood is shoved away to where the horses are kept, Rhodry remarks glibly, “I’ll be pleased to shove those swords up that man’s arse, brother.” He seems in a fine mood, unlike Marence.
Just as Marence decides to rein his brother in, Lord Neilyn takes a similar approach to one of his younger siblings, calling Tanyth back over to himself and giving the care of Rosarya Sand over to her. Instead, he rides forward to join those gathered around Prince Marence, should the prince already wish to speak to his lords about what will be done.
“Ser Laurent,” Marence then says, after scowling at Rhodry, “see to the ships. As many as can be had.” And then turning, to the Uller heiress he thinks, considering her, and then remarks, “Hellholt’s loyalty is always welcome, Lady Liane… but I think it shall not need so much strength as I could bear with the Uller spears.” And then, after a moment, “Though if Lady Uller would raise banners in support, let her men make sure that the western passage along the foothills is closed to prevent any allies from coming to Yronwoods support from that direction.”
As Joris is hauled away Tamara shakes her head, “What will become of his poor daughter?” She asks her maid Tyrine, who shrugs in response. “I hope they do not imprison her too.” Her concern for the young girl written on her face. Though now she just sits ahorse and watches, listening intently and hoping things calm down soon.
“Prince Marence, I beg you…” Liane breathes again, louder this time. “...if you send the spears they may yet bend the knee. They may listen if there is an army in the Boneway, at Yronwood. Still, it doesn’t have to mean open war. They lady and even the Witch may yet parley with me if I were there and pleading with them to surrender.” still she drones on with this same message. “I have men, I can have more quickly.” But then the Prince has responded and she falls silent to listen. “I will send messages at once to my lady.”
Only some time after Rhodry’s return—and subsequent threats against Ser Joris—does Samara Sand rejoin the hunting party as well. Its hard to read her sharp, exotic features, but plainly the news of her father’s capture by Lady Yronwood have left their mark on the red-haired bastard. She lingers at the outskirts of the gathering, clearly wanting to hear what is being said.
Spying this, and with his sister and brother elsewhere occupied, Ser Tamlyn retrieves his sandsteed and rides over to join her. “It is perhaps not as bad as it seems right now,” he suggests to her, though without sounding very convincing at all.
“You will have them, my prince,” is the Sand Dog’s succinct reply as he bows his head; he has not looked even once at his half-brother being taken away. Liane speaks, then, and he falls silent until she has finished. And he counters sardonically, “Bend the knee after spitting in the prince’s face? They have gone too far, my lady. A price must be paid. Else what is to stop Lord Manwoody tomorrow from testing how far he dare try Sunspear’s patience? Or Lady Fowler?”
He glances at Marence, “Or Lord Wyl?”
Estranged a bit from her family to be sure, well enough for her Lady aunt to not pay her any mind or courtesy, Tamara still looks up as she hears the name. She shakes her head at the princes words, “I should think not, though I see what my prince means. That sort of insolence cannot go unpunished, lest we want all lords and ladies to be just as insolent.” She says haphazardly directed to no one and everyone at the same time, whether it reaches anyones ears but her maids is something Tamara did not notice.
A moment of consideration longer, and then Marence nods, “If you wish, Lady Liane, you may join the fleet and attempt to parley with Lady Yronwood—but only when there is a force there to let her know that I’ll not see any more envoys seized.”
The youngest of Princess Malora’s sons says to his brother, “No man here knows Yronwood better than I do, so of course I’ll lead the host, brother; it needs no asking. I’ll have the Sand Dog as my lieutenant, and—”
Gritting his teeth, Marence raises a hand sharply for silence—a gesture so out of character, Rhodry actually shuts up. “I will lead mine own banners,” the Prince of Dorne says. “You can follow me, Prince Rhodry, but the command is mine.” And then to Ser Laurent, “You, too, ser. Your experience in the Boneway will be much needed. I shall leave Ser Perrin to hold Sunspear.”
Blaise has been silent for some time as he follows the conversation of his elders. But as the prince of Dorne starts assembling a host to ride for the Boneway, he takes a step forward. “I wish to join you, my prince, and do what I can for peace in the realm.”
Tamara’s mind goes back the girl who’s father will not be coming home to her. A twinge of sentiment and pain as she raises her voice, though not so loud as a shout. “What of Ser Joris’ daughter my lords?” Not expecting to gain any results, though she feels better for trying. She winces a little noticing how trivial she must have sounded, blushing as she looks away to her maid.
Liane offers a curtsey, such as it is. “Then I shall. I have a spear too, my prince. If the lady will not parley, I will strike any blow you so command.” she responds. ” I would rather it be my hand than from someone who enjoys it.” she adds, but it’s possible the prince did not hear.
An almost sullen glance in silence as Ser Tamlyn as he joins her, bringing his mount up alongside with her own. “Perhaps not,” Samara answers at length, now watching with sharp eyes the continued discussion taking place around Prince Marence. The declarations of her kinswoman, Lady Liane, seem to draw particular interest from the bastard Uller scion.
Surprise flickers across Laurent’s face when Marence declares he will lead the spears himself. But he curbs it swiftly enough: “My sword is yours, my prince, as ever. There are others as well; good men who have ridden against the northerners with me in the Boneway and taken service in Planky Town. I will gather as many as I can with the ships without weakening the garrison.”
He glances at Blaise as the young man comes forward, and adds, “And doubtless my lord cousin in Lemonwood will raise as many spears as he can.”
Blaise Dalt’s brave words make Marence pause… but then, seeing the Lord Bailiff in the crowd, says, “It is for your knight to decide, my lord of Dalt,” before he turns away to continue discussing the business of the war. Yet Tamara’s query distracts him, and his expression softens—a little, in any case. “Someone will have to see to her care,” the prince remarks, frowning. “Something to look into, when we are at Sunspear.”
And that, of course, reminds him. He turns, and finding a groom commands him, “Have everything ready to depart shortly—horses saddled, equipment gathered, and men at the ready. We return to Sunspear as soon as we may.”