“He started it.”
The Dents had been staying as the personal guests of Lady Farra for only two days, yet she had learned a great deal. Ingvar shared the tales of the North, and the differences between the Dornish and the lords and ladies of the far North. As Ingvar told it, there were dramatic differences between those near the wall and those south of Winterfell as well. The people near the wall, Ingvar’s people, decended from the wildlings. Ingvar explained that it made their House different from their neighbors. The free folk, as the wildlings called themselves, did not put any weight into the notion of court traditions or reverence of nobility. This reflected how the lord of the House, Lord Michael, had ruled his people. He viewed them almost as children, and visited them as often as he could. He was a stern man when the law was broken, but he was fair. The smallfolk seemed to love him for it, and when he was orphaned tragically at 8, his people followed his rule without incident as he grew to adulthood. Yet there was Blood of the First Men in the Dents as well. It was what kept them fiercely loyal to the Starks of Winterfell, and what kept the Dent rule in place for thousands of years. Yet, of the lines of the three original brothers, the smallfolk could (and would) change their allegiance. One brother’s kin might be removed in favor of another. As a result, the Dents paid special care to the rights and allegiance of those sworn to them. Yet it was always a Dent who ruled. The nobility was expected, and none ever questioned it. Ingvar admitted it was an unusual system compared to others south of the Wall, but it had led to harmony for most of their ancient history.
Ingvar had always been cordial, and skilled in the political realms of the Seven Kingdoms. Lady Farra had seen signs in him of the differences he described to her, but it was only now that it was clear. Lady Farra explained to Llewellyn how she had witnessed families at play, adult brothers wrestling, in the dusty roads of Lonetree. At times she even envied them. They seemed to enjoy a life free from the burden of rule. But as a noblewoman of Dorne, she was taught she must be a model to her people. They must see her as wise, as measured, and they would trust her rule as a result. She grew up this way. Her grandchildren were raised this way. Maester Llewellyn knew her instructions well. To rule was a privilege, and a grave responsibility. The Oakdown grandchildren grasped this with varying degrees of success. But it was never for a lack of instruction. Of all the Maester’s responsibilites, he took the education of the granchildren most seriously.
Lady Farra charged the Maester to impart the dignity of Court, and a reverence for those who held power there. The grandchildren were taught to dress in their finest garb, and behave with rigid grace as a show of respect for their guests. Those from Dorne did not judge as fiercely the circumstances of one’s birth as others in the Seven Kingdoms. Though if truth were told, it still played a part. The Maester witnessed this within the household itself. Redgate held Rhoynish blooded nobles and bastards, haughty Andal children, and an open minded Andal girl. The one constant was the importance of duty, rule and loyalty to one’s people and House.
so here they were, with their lives and their fates unraveling before them. Lady Elyana remained with Ser Adrian Connington, who had asked Lady Farra for Elyana’s hand. He informed Lady Oakdown that they would travel in person as soon as it was safe to do so, but the road was now treacherous for them both. Lady Daera, Elyana’s sister, was to wed Ser Cransen Yronwood. This would be an important alliance, as Sunspear’s intentions remained unclear. The tensions between Skyreach and Redgate only intensified, and indications were that this was being laid at the feet of House Oakdown. Desmond Sand had vanished once more, having yet to return from King’s Landing. At least all of Arthur’s children had returned safely. The heir, Lord Andros returned with his younger brother. Quinn was now an annointed knight, and immediately offered his sword to his family. Lady Charlotte perhaps endured the most periolous journey of all. She rescued Ingvar’s cousin, the heir of House Dent in the far North, With the help of loyal men, House Oakdown repaid their debt to their House Dent at great danger. They had now been accused of the Northern conspiracy to murder His Grace, the now deceased King Joffrey.
The Dents seemed unaffected. The heir and Ingvar were there, enjoying the hospitality of Redgate, and enjoying their reunion fully. Lady Farra seemed to understand that these people were different from any she had known. Before this, Ingvar had dutifully adapted to Dornish ways and customs. Now, he was with family once more. Perhaps all of Redgate could do with a spell of informality. Perhaps. Her own granddaughter, Lady Charlotte, stood among them now. Her time with the Northmen seemed to have changed her somehow. She was more confident, more aware. She was a loyal granddaughter, even if she often resisted the way of life the Gods had chosen for her. She questioned many things, and would go forth into the world in her own way. As Lady Farra grew older, she feared what that might mean for her little Charlotte. The days where she could protect her were quickly fading away. Instead, she could only smile.
“It appears we may need to have a new dining table crafted.” Lady Farra motioned to nearby servants, who scurried to clean the mess. “Honored guests, would you do us the honor of joining us in the High Hall? Maester Llewellyn has drawn up the charter of friendship between our Houses, and I would enjoy sharing a cup of Red to mark the occasion.” Lady Farra turned to begin her climb up the central stair to the High Hall, still smiling ever so slightly. Maester Llewellyn couldn’t help but wonder what her reaction might have been had the two men wrestling in the hall been Oakdowns.
Nonetheless, Lady Farra was determined to cement an alliance with House Dent. They had now been cast together, on two opposite sides of the world, as conspirators against the Iron Throne. This made them mortal enemies of the Royal House and House Lannister. Fortunately, they were not alone. Dorne was an uneasy ally of the Throne, and never knwon for their willingness to fall in line. Prince Oberyn was hoping to demand justice for Ella Martell while in King’s Landing. Word was he had declared himself Champion for the accused, Lord Tyrion Lannister. And House Dent’s circumstances were even worse. The Stark family had been removed as Wardens of the North, and House Bolton put in their stead. The Dents refused to swear allegiance to Bolton, and Lord Devon was kept a prisoner as a result. Only now, Devon was free, with the aid of House Oakdown. The die had been cast. The coming weeks and months would be a dangerous time for them all. Let everyone enjoy their time while they could. Soon enough, those times would be gone.