Bow Before The Sun

Desmond II

The road to Redgate from Lonetree couldn’t properly be called a road. Although the castle folk referred to it as the Lonetree Road and those in Lonetree simply called it the Road, it was little more than a rutted track. It needed little to differentiate it from other paths between the Oakdown keep and the small hamlet as there were no others. No paving stones or guideposts to mark the way, only ground worn smooth by centuries of wagon wheels, hooves, and feet. Desmond guided his sand steed, Tempest, up the mountain path as countless travelers through the Prince’s Pass had done throughout the history of Westeros.

Desmond had taken his leave of Lysa and the Cup early in the afternoon. His head still ached and he was certain now more than he had been upon first waking that the pain came from the ale mug that had been smashed against his skull rather than the ale itself. He never should have turned his back on the second guardsman last night and considered himself lucky that the treacherous dog had just had the tankard and not a cudgel. Or worse yet, a blade.

After the first hawk had insulted and struck the serving wench Desmond had the excuse he needed. The oaf had felt the need to argue after Desmond had removed the armsman’s hand rather forcibly from the girl. A quick heel of the hand to the hawk’s throat had lessened his argument considerably, but, unfortunately, his companion had wanted to continue the conversation, which is when the thick pottery had crashed into the back of Desmond’s head. At least, that’s what Desmond assumed happened when the common room of the inn had suddenly resembled staring into the noonday sun over the desert and he had found himself on the floor inhaling the scents of stale beer and dirty sawdust.

Blood had trickled down his neck and joined its scent to the pungent mélange. After his vision resolved to something close to normal, Des had pulled his dagger as he rose to the shout of “Bastard!” from the second hawk. Instead of spinning to take the man in the throat as he had originally intended, Desmond spun on his knees and buried the blade in the Fowler’s groin.

“And now you’ll be making none, you treacherous scum.”

With both men writhing on the floor in agony, the first silently gasping for air, the second perhaps dying judging from the amount of blood pouring from the stab wound, Desmond had stood slowly and reached down to lift the man that had assaulted the young woman from the floor by his stained tunic. He wasn’t sure if he had intended to grab the azure hawk badge in his fist but found in his memory that the hooded bird was perhaps prophetic given what happened next. A blinded hawk, indeed.

“Now, be a good fellow and apologize to this young lady,” Desmond had said indicating the serving girl who was still sobbing in a heap next to the table, her cheek already showing faint hints of a bruise where the lout had struck it.

“Go fuck yerself," the guardsman managed to gasp out. “I ain’t apologizing to no one-eyed, common cunt. And nothin’ you can do is gonna change that."

“Is that your final word on the matter, then?”

“You can bet your arse it is, bastard.”

Desmond could still feel the pop the man’s left eyeball had made beneath his thumb and hear the cries of both hawks as Nethen, the Cup’s doorman, had thrown them both out into the street.

Desmond entered the gate of the keep to the knelling of the mourning bells in the tower above. Off toward the ridge he could hear the wails of the common folk. That was what separated the castle-raised from the commoners, the ability to control one’s emotions. Not for the first time Desmond felt anger toward the commoners. Granted, he was a step below noble-born – two steps or more according to some – but at least he had control of his emotions.

As Tempest crossed the yard Desmond was little surprised to find it deserted. The family and majority of the household would be up on Sorrow Ridge while the remainder of the servants would be preparing for the feast. All the better, he’d have the run of the keep until the memorial was finished and it would allow him to take a bath in peace. No thinly veiled contempt from Andros, no need to feign interest in whatever tales Quinn brought from Kingsgrave, no trying to figure out the moods of Daera, Charlotte, or Elyana, no lectures from Maester Llewellyn, and no enduring another lecture – no matter how well-meaning – from Grandmother. At least for a few more blessed hours.

By the Seven, a bath to wash off the desert dust, Fowler blood, and Lysa and perhaps a skin of wine from the kitchens and then, maybe, he’d have the strength to deal with his family.

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Mauro I

Mauro stands beside the single open window of his small chamber in castle Redgate, blinking against the dust blown in by the desert wind. The sea at least is free of dust if not wind. He remarks to himself, thinking briefly about the long voyage across the broad Summer Sea that brought him back to Dorne. In truth it no longer felt like home to him, not after falling in love with the exotic sights and pleasures of the free cities. Memories of Lys brought with it a pang of longing for the lady he’d left behind. What are you doing right now, Laurel my love? Will you forgive me for never being able to dance again?

The thought of that terrible blow to his right knee from the brigand’s heavy flail sends an agonizing stab of pain through his leg. Tears threaten to form in his eyes, which he blinks away irritably, clamping his jaw tight until the discomfort passes. Damn you bastards! You’ll rue the day I find you and even the score! He swore to himself, palming his fist and cracking his knuckles.

Outside in the castles courtyard, voices carried from the crowd gathered for the feast following the ceremony at Sorrow Ridge. A day of mourning for the tragic loss of lady Farra’s fallen sons, and husband, sixteen years ago. Mauro had a deep respect for lady Farra and an easy time relating to her feelings on this sad anniversary. His father Masso was also killed by brigands, though much more recently. The trauma of having family murdered was an awful thing to live with.

In truth Mauro never felt worse in his life, and if Maester Llewellyn permitted it he’d prefer to be deeply drunk most every waking moment. Especially since he was mostly bedridden these last few month’s while the Maester tended to his knee. Yet for all the mans lecturing and pretentious opinions Mauro had to admit he was skilled in his trade. There’s no doubt he’d never have been able to walk again without his help. He owed the man a great debt, along with the rest of her household.

Mauro had to admit his mother Carlotta was wise to send him up into these mountains seeking laddy Farra’s aid. She was not such a bad old lady afterall, especially considering everything she had to put behind her. It surprised him to hear her offer to use her influence and wide net of contacts to seek out those brigands responsible for his maiming and fathers death. His gratitude towards her was great, but as the weeks passed on with yet no word on the matter he was growing ever more irritable and impatient.

Mauro heard himself muttering Maester Llewellyn’s favorite phrase. “Time heals all wounds…” Mauro scoffed out loud. “Hah!” The nagging feeling of helplessness and regret ate at him day and night. He wanted a drink quite badly, the perfect thing to dull the angst and anxiety of just… waiting. How could these noble-born types prefer to live like this? What good was it to have so many servants, so many allies, when in the end all it meant was you had to rely that much more on others?

The sounds of laughter and a minstrels music from the crowd below tugged his attention away from his worries and troubles. Music… food… drink! It’s time I truly escaped the smooth sandstone walls of this room, beyond what I read about in Maester Llewellyn’s books!

And with that, Mauro turns and steps over to the small side table and chair over which his Braavosi duelists blade and baldric were hung, slipping it over his shoulder before he started limping across the room towards the door. That damn Maester better not have a guard posted outside again. I’ve begun to wonder if he truly understands the meaning of the word ‘guest’?!

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Desmond I

The stabbing light of morning through the moth-eaten curtains pulled Desmond Sand from the clutches of slumber. Painfully.

His head throbbed, whether from drink or from the tankard with which he had been blindsided – both acquired in the common room below – he couldn’t be certain. By the Seven, but his mouth was drier than the deep sands too. He made to move his arm up to rub at his aching head and reach for the waterskin that he had left next to the bed with his saddlebags only to find a soft weight pressing down and against him.

Ah, yes, the barmaid. Lorna? Lena? Lexa?

Lydia, he thought as he reached his hand around to cup a heavy breast. Young, firm, all things considered not a bad reward for nearly getting one’s head split. A pity he didn’t remember more of it. Opening his eyes slowly against the invading sunlight he winced and looked down to see a fall of tawny hair the color of the desert sands spread across his chest. He moved his hand down the young woman’s side – Lydia, he reminded himself – to her waist. He was pleased to find it soft, not skin and bones, but not overly large. At least he’d had the good sense to defend the well-shaped one.

Details from the night before replayed in his mind. The pair of Fowler armsmen, uncommon but not unheard of at the Devil’s Cup. The barmaid – Lydia – delivering their drinks. Their ribald jokes and wandering hands. Her weak but, ultimately, useless protests. One of the Fowler guards reaching for her hand and wrenching her arm as she attempted to pull away. The slap she delivered with the other hand and the fist to the side of her head she received in return.

From there, he hadn’t been in control, hadn’t been able to fight his instincts any more than a scorpion could help stinging when it felt threatened. No more than he’d been in control the night he’d found the merchant in Elyana’s bedchamber.

He knew he should’ve bypassed Lonetree, but he’d been tired from the long ride from Sunspear and hadn’t felt like dealing with the gathering mourners at Redgate. He wouldn’t make it back before the ceremony at Sorrow Ridge. Grandmother would be disappointed, and would let Desmond know this as only she could, but he’d need to attend the feast or face her wrath.

And no one wanted to face Lady Farra’s wrath.

Lydia stirred against him and raised her head. Her left eye, the one that had prompted the Fowler to proclaim her a “one-eyed bitch” after she had refused his drunken advances, stared listlessly to the side and past Desmond at a spot on the tarred plank wall of the Cup.

“Good morning, m’lord,” she yawned.

“Good morning, Lydia,” he said. “But, I told you, I’m no lord, only a poor bastard.”

“It’s… it’s Lysa, m’lord,” the tavern wench stammered hesitantly.

Lysa. Yes, of course. Ah, well, he couldn’t be expected to remember the name of every barmaid he tumbled.

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Ingvar I
Barbarian Intrigue

“Will this never end? These people are dead. Let them rest and let the living get on with life. " Thought Ingvar as he scanned the crowd looking for trouble. “And that Septon makes Maester Llewellyn sound positively terse. At least Llew is interesting to listen to, most of the time.”

Ingvar understood and approved remembering those who went before but this was excessive. Hoist a mug, sing their songs, remember their tales but for the Nameless Gods sake don’t let the memory make you more dead then alive. And to be absolutely fair this whole event had him mulling over the losses the Dent’s had suffered so far in the War of the Five Kings, as it was being called.

Some had been lost before Lord Dent sent him with Ser Tygor and Lady Christina, the Lord’s eldest daughter, to escort them safely to Tygor’s homeland. Others had been lost since his departure. The story of the treachery of Frey and Bolton had reached him after he arrived. Now, in addition to comrades-in-arms, it appeared his cousin and friend, the Lord’s son Devon, was missing, possibly dead. Lord Dent forbade him to return now, reminding him of the importance of his mission." We will need the strength of allies to make these traitors pay," he wrote. “Find me those allies and we will water the land with the traitors blood.”

He scanned the crowd to clear his head and he noticed most were focused on Lady Farra, some on the Septon and the balance seemed fascinated by their feet. That made Lady Charlotte stand out. She appeared as anxious as he to be done with this.

Eventually it did end and the crowd dispersed. Some headed to pay respects at other graves but a fair amount went to see what the Dorne Road company had to offer. Lady Farra had told him early this morning that she would be personally attending to the feast preparation and that “he should keep himself occupied but out from underfoot until the feast”.

He made his way to the company intending to see what news of the war they might have and to purchase one of his addictions. By the Old Gods, if it weren’t for the war this place could be heaven. The only thing spicier than the peppers he had come to crave was the women, if only they had a good mead he would want for nothing.

He exchanged pleasantries on his way, doing his portion of hosting guests as would be proper, and was closing on the company when he was stopped by two young ladies. Too well dressed to be smallfolk it took only a moment for him to connect the colors to a house.

“Lady Jeyne, Lady Jennelyn,” he said with a bow to each, “How fair you this day?”

Both returned the courtesy with a small curtsy and a “Well met.”

“I’m told it’s unusual for House Fowler to be present at this anniversary.” he said with an upraised eyebrow.

They both appeared startled by the bluntness but recovered quickly. “We hope to begin repairing the damage to the relations of our houses. Father has tried in the past many times but Lady Oakdown seems unreceptive to his words. We hoped that by showing her we sympathize with her losses it might be a first step toward reconciliation.” explained Jayne with a shy smile and demure demeanor.

Ingvar had more tolerance for intrigue than his liege, Lord Dent, but after the drawn out events of today he was in no mood for pretty speeches that amounted to nothing. His Dent blood was in full force as he drew himself to his full height and glared down at the twins. “You’ll forgive Lady Oakdown her hesitancy I trust. Seeing as it was House Fowler Knights who killed her husband and members of her family. Personally I find it remarkable she hasn’t extracted blood for the blood spilled. A true testament to her Lady’s forbearance. Wouldn’t you agree?” he said in the voice he used to dress down soldiers with no attempt to keep it private. “Or does House Fowler not consider it an issue since it wasn’t Fowler blood spilled?”

Both women took a step back in shock, mouths agape. Just as Jayne began to find her voice after several false starts, he cut her off.

“Thank you for stopping by. I’ll be sure to let Lady Farra know you were thinking of her. Now if you’ll excuse me I have business to attend to and guests to greet. Good evening and Godspeed on your journey home.” There was no mistaking the dismissal in his tone nor the quickly concealed smiles of the smallfolk who heard the exchange. He turned smartly on his heel and resumed his journey to the company.

He smiled as he heard the twins talking behind him in outrage about his behavior and actually laughed out loud to be called a barbarian. A pity they were Fowlers, it might have been interesting to find out just how much twins they are.

The thought of tumbling the pair lightened his mood some and the acquisition of peppers and a small cask of black beer soon had him in a much more reasonable mood even though there was no word of Devon.

He returned to the keep and had his things brought to his room before heading to the feast. He would remain in northern garb even though, in truth, it was much to warm for it. Tonight he was lady Oakdown’s strong right arm, the Northern Barbarian, later he could put on something more suited to the temperature.

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Quinn I

He stands a distance from the rest of group after he got all the attention he was wanting. As he stands there he begins to think of what his life will be like when he is older, as of now he just a squire. After he takes a drink from him cup he notices two young ladies staring at him smiling and pointing, he looks at them curiously as they motion for him to come to them. Setting his cup down he makes his way over to them.
He arrives at their table “May I sit down?” he asks politely as one moves over allowing him to sit. While smiling he sits down “Why have you called me over?”
The prettier looking one with long brown hair and hazel eyes says “We just wanted to talk to you.” She flashes a smile.
He nods and leans back “What would you like to talk about?”
The girl next to him says “I’m Renna and this is Loraine” she gestures to her friend.
He nods once again “Nice to meet you, I’m Qu-”
Loraine interrupts him “We know who are you.” she says while smiling.
He notches an eyebrow “Oh? And how do you?”
Renna “Well for one, you’re very handsome as most girls know who you are. Secondly, you’re the brother of Lord Andros Oakdown.”
He smiles “Ah, yes, almost forgot about that one”
They both giggle “So, what’s it like having so much attention on you?”
“Well, considering I /love/ attention it’s usually quite something I enjoy.” He says as he waves his hand for another drink.
They nod as he receives his drink “So, do you have any plans for marriage, you know since you’re heir to the throne after your older brother?”
He takes a long drink before responding then swallows “None at the moment, but options are still open.” Then he begins to fix the hilt of sword that is digging into his side “Why do you ask?”
They begin to blush, “No reason” Loraine says
Rolling his shoulders out “Well, it was lovely talking to both, but now I must go.” He stands from the table and walks off in search of a new conversation at the ceremony.

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Charlotte I

Dornish_Feast.jpg

The ceremony at Sorrow Ridge, behind and above the castle of Redgate, went by in a haze. Charlotte watched her grandmother stand stoically amongst the small seven-pointed stars that marked the lost members of House Oakdown and House Southwynd. The small winding pass climbed the peak, with the oldest members of House Southwynd memorialized at the summit. Each new marker was placed on the winding pass as it made its way down the mountain back towards Redgate. Charlotte felt little need to grieve for her family. Her life was filled with grieving. Charlotte’s grandmother, Lady Farra, encouraged all in Redgate to set aside this day to mourn, and then to focus on the future the remainder of the year. Yet it was clear that was impossible. Charlotte tried to mask her feelings amongst the mourners. She tried to listen to the Septon drone on out of respect, but she just wanted this day to be over.

Lady Farra had spent the morning in prayer at the Sept, and then the day walking the halls and later Sorrow Ridge itself. Eventually, one by one the mourners followed and paid their respects. Lady Farra had commissioned stone statues be erected at her family’s place on the ridge. This was where they were standing now, and the eyes shifted from the statues, to the markers on the ground above where the bones rested. Some eyes found the Septon, many found Lady Farra, and others remained on their own feet. It was uncomfortable for all. There was audible wailing from the smallfolk who were allowed to attend, but no such outpouring was permitted from the family. Fortunately, the constant state of grief that hung over the keep ensured no fresh grief was possible on this day. Charlotte bowed her head, beseeching the Crone for wisdom, and the Mother for forgiveness. She wanted to forgive her mother for being weak, and she wanted to forgive her grandmother for being too strong. Mostly, she wanted to forgive herself for not grieving at all.

As the ceremony ended, many remained and walked up and down the ridge to pay respects to the noble family who fell in centuries past. Others returned to Redgate to prepare for the feast in two hours time. Many guests came from around the Red Mountains to pay their respects, and the Oakdown family was expected to be proper hosts. The High Hall on the uppermost level of Redgate would not be available to receive guests until just before the feast, so the family was expected to attend to guests until that time. Lady Farra made her way directly to the High Hall herself to oversee the preparations beforehand. Charlotte’s older brother- the heir, Lord Andros, asked Lady Farra once more if the servants couldn’t attend to the preparations for the feast while Lady Farra mourned. As in all other things, Lady Farra insisted on overseeing this directly. She quickly walked down the pass, meeting the many well wishers with a polite, but cursory, reply. At no point did she slow her step to converse.

The sun had set an hour before, and the winds were colder in the higher elevations. Most present wanted to find their way indoors, or at the least, down towards the Prince’s Pass. The Dorne Road company had once more returned to the Red Mountains, and as they often did, set up their tents and wares for the anniversary of the Hooded Uprising. While they made this stop several times each year, they usually set up their trade in Lonetree. For the anniversary, however, they followed the crowd and crowded the Prince’s Pass with carts, tables and crates. Many of the attendees used the time between the ceremony and the feast to partake of goods brought from Sunspear and the Greenblood. There was fish, blood oranges, Dornish peppers, and spices. Even with the war, many made sure they were able to purchase something from the Dorne Road company. The smallfolk were welcome at the ceremony, but the feast afterwards was for invited guests only. The crowd would visit the Dorne Road on their way back down the pass towards home.

Two women in particular attracted attention outside the walls of Redgate proper. They were fair, and dressed in noble gowns woven in blue and cream silks. They each wore a black scarf to demonstrate their mourning. The gowns gave them away as Fowlers, and their identical appearance made it clear they were the twins Jeyne and Jennelyn. No Fowler had come to the ceremony in years, since Lady Farra had made it clear they were not welcome. The Old Hawk was nowhere to be seen still, but the presence of his daughters made all anxious. Did Farra see them? Or did she pass them on her way to the High Hall? They were currently speaking to a man dressed in Northern furs, and a cloak that looked to provide warmth, and thus, likely saw little use outside of the evenings in the mountains. The man was handsome, and known to the locals as Ingvar Dent. The Northman was a trusted advisor to Lady Farra, and had her ear regarding military matters- but also many others. It was said this stranger might be the closest thing Lady Farra had to a friend. Yet she would still insist that the matters of the feast were attended by her alone, and so Ingvar Dent found himself hosting the guests along with the others.

Lady Charlotte was speaking with her younger brother, Quinn, who just arrived for the ceremony. She scolded him for his late arrival, but knew Lady Farra would forgive him. He was a squire in the service of Ser Myles Manwoody, and all of Redgate was proud of him. He was warmly cheered by the smallfolk, and the lad of 16 basked in the adoration. Charlotte looked around to see if she could spot Desmond, but didn’t see him. She hadn’t noticed him on the Ridge, but imagined he was somewhere. Desmond often isolated himself, and to be truthful, the man known as the Bastard of Redgate scared her. Yet she did enjoy her cousin, and hoped to find and speak with him before the evening ended. Her cousin Elyana was last seen making her way down to the Dorne Road company, and had a host of admirers following her movements. Among the gathered guests were Lord Andros Oakdown and his wife, Lady Gwendolyn. Lady Daera was speaking to Perros Blackmont, and standing too close to him. If grandmother could see her, she would undoubtedly be flushed.

The crowd of smallfolk intermingled with the visiting nobles, and barely stood aside as the entourage from Yronwood arrived. Few if any noticed the glare that Cransen and Cletus Yronwood threw at the Fowler twins on their way to Redgate. Maester Llewellyn formally welcomed them, and seemed to be awaiting their arrival in particular. He ushered them into the main hall where the most privileged guests gathered, and up the winding stairwell to the High Hall. Despite Lady Farra’s insistence to the others that she not be disturbed, it appeared that House Yronwood was to be granted a special audience. The smells of the garlic sausage,dates, prepared chickpea paste, roasted pheasant, flatbreads, onions in gravy, and Strongwine wafted down the stairwell to the gathering guests. Servants walked through the Main Hall bringing olives, cheeses and lemonwater to the guests as they waited. A minstrel sang of the famed Ser Vaeron, and his exploits, and the crowd began to thin leaving mainly the feast goers at the keep.

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Cletus I

Mountain_Desert.jpgThe new knight pulled his Sand Steed to a trot as his companions joined him. He shielded his eyes from the setting Dornish sun to take in the view. The orange sky capped the Red Mountains, and a short 4 leagues up the Prince’s Pass was their destination. Once at Redgate, they could expect hospitality and a full night’s sleep before beginning their journey across the desert for Sunspear. With the setting sun came a refreshing cool wind, and comfort at last from the punishing heat. The two others quickly came up beside him- both wearing the sand and black colors of House Yronwood. They wore noble garb in lieu of their armor. None were expecting any hostility from bandits or the like. The sigil of Yronwood brought security in these lands, and only the most foolish would attack those who bore it.

The new knight, clad in the red and orange of House Martell, led the party from Yronwood along the Stone Way around the Red Mountains to the Prince’s Pass. The journey took most of the day, but they all knew the worst was yet to come. But each looked forward to spending some time in Redgate for myriad reasons- despite the somber occasion. Ser Cletus brought his own Sand Steed alongside his friend Ser Quentyn.

“Don’t fret, old friend. I’m sure some poor maid in Lonetree will take pity on you for a tumble or two. We’ll pay our respects at Sorrow Ridge, find some food, and still have time to spare.”

Quentyn Martell groaned. “I understand why we are here. But if it were up to me we would have headed straight for Sunspear to answer my father’s summons.”

Cletus Yronwood shook his head in disappointment. “One day will not hamper our purpose. And it makes little sense to miss an opportunity for the warmth of a woman’s arms. I intend to take several opportunities myself. What say you, Cransen?”

The third rider looked more nervous than the other two. “I intend to make a good impression on Lady Farra. If all goes well, I will be spoken for after this evening. I would be happy for a belly full of warm spiced cider.”

“Don’t worry about that old bird. Lady Farra is harmless enough.” Cletus was becoming irritated. Would he be forced to adventure without his companions this evening? He didn’t doubt he was man enough for the task, yet who would he share his stories with?

“You’re a fool, Cletus.” Quentyn laughed, and spurred his Sand Steed up the pass. “The commemoration begins at middday. If we don’t hurry, we’ll miss it and our overdue rest.”

Cransen Yronwood looked visibly shaken. He too directed his horse up the pass, and quickly caught up with Quentyn, beckoning his cousin to come quickly.”

“I’ve no need to listen to that Septon. As long as we aren’t late for the dinner after, I’m content.” Cletus joined the others, and ascended the pass for Redgate.

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Introduction to House Oakdown
The Maiden's 4th, 300 AL

Player_castle.jpgRedgate- pictured above

The Sept bell was tolling, and the sound reverberated off of the walls of Redgate. For a small castle, at the foothills leading into the Red Mountains, it had seen much tragedy. Lady Farra Oakdown, matriarch of the Oakdown family, looked every one of her 61 years. She wore the light silk dress that was common amongst the people in Dorne. The fabric was an airy black, and demonstrated to all that she was in mourning. This was the anniversary, after all. Those in the keep perched on the side of the mountains, as well as those below in the hamlet of Lonetree, shared in the sorrow. But none felt it as deeply as Lady Farra.

The Lady of Redgate had to count back for a moment. It couldn’t be 300 AL already could it? That would put the tragedy at 16 years. None of the grandchildren grew up knowing their Oakdown parents, or the wonderful Lord of Redgate, her husband. All that those precious grandchildren knew of family was each other, the household retinue, and herself. They thought her a stern old woman, with little charm. They suffered eventually growing up without any of their parents, their aunts and uncles, their grandfather. Yet the household drew together and helped raise these little lords and ladies of Redgate. They were almost all grown now. In fact, several were now the age her children were when they were brutally taken away. Still, Lady Farra could not allow herself to forget. She missed her husband dearly. The agony of losing each of her three children was alone more than anyone could be expected to bear. She was forced to endure it without the comfort of her best friend, and it was the loss of her husband that haunted her more than any other.

As she walked into the Sept, the small statues stood vigil at each of the seven sandstone walls. While the likeness of each of the Seven were modest in size, they were exquisitely carved of marble. Her husband, Lord Nygel, spared no expense when honoring the Seven; for all the good that did him. Where was the Mother when Lady Farra had prayed for her family’s safety? Where was the Father when justice eluded her house? Or the Warrior, who fled her husband and children in their most desperate hour? Lady Farra was no fool. She knew better than to let any in her house question her faith. She was the example to the young and servile. Their faith was all that many of them had. But she would never put her trust in the Seven again. When she paid her visits to the Sept, she lit her candles and kneeled silently. Her mind dwelled on the faces of her dear Nygel, and her three lost children. She thought of her grandchildren that remained. She never prayed.

The stained glass windows that adorned the humble Sept were opened, and the dry wind blew past her face. It cooled her somewhat, yet the heat lingered. Strange, considering most of the Seven Kingdoms were a year into their winter. Higher in the Red Mountains, perhaps, winter might also be felt. Only the occasional dusting of snow found its way to Redgate, and none to the hamlet of Lonetree below. When her quiet contemplation was finished, she stood and dusted off her dress. The desert sand was always present. She demanded her household staff tend to it, and while she would never confess it to them, she understood it was a futile task. Yet Redgate would not succumb to it, or anything else for that matter, while she sat in the Oakchair. The fate of her house depended now on these grandchildren of hers. She saw the faces of her lost children in theirs.

Her eldest son had chiseled features and the blond hair of his Andal ancestors. Arthur Oakdown did not pass the sandy yellow hair to all of his heirs, but each of his three children were the spitting image of their father. Likewise they inherited his bravery, and his stubbornness. These three grandchildren were the heirs of Redgate, and would sit the Oakchair when Lady Farra’s time was done. She worried that their rash tempers might lead the house to danger, but she did not question their cunning. Certainly they would know the limits they faced. But they would likewise know the strength of their family.

Her younger son and second born, Aryl, had two children of his own. His features were darker, and his hair black, like that of his wife Bethany Allyrion. They were features that their own children shared. Arthur and Aryl married on the same day to their respective brides, and the five children they sired were fast friends. They grew up understanding what it meant to be an Oakdown, and took the teachings of their Maester very seriously.

Finally was her youngest child, and her only daughter. Annabyl had the sandy hair and Andal features of her older brother, but the Dornish temperament of Farra’s home to the east in Vaith. Annabyl took a trip to Sunspear when she was younger, and fell in love with the city. Annabyl adopted many of the customs and beliefs of the area, and brought this with her to Redgate when she returned home. Annabyl visited Sunspear as often as she could, for as long as she could. It was there that Annabyl met her paramour, and the father of her child. The two never married, and when Annabyl returned to Redgate with her infant, the paramour did not join her.

Of her six grandchildren, though, there was no question that Annabyl’s son, Desmond, had the most natural talent for violence. If anyone could avenge the 16 year horror, it was him. The child was isolated though from the other cousins, and moreso from the rest of the household staff. Was it the temper that led to isolation, or the fact that the boy was bastard born? That seemed unlikely in Dorne, but the Stone Dornish were sometimes more like the rest of the Seven Kingdoms then anyone cared to admit. Farra knew there was an anger in this little Desmond. It was a controlled anger, and never truly a threat to the family. Still, she suspected this set him apart from the others.

The bell continued its somber tones. Lady Farra walked out of the Sept, and would spend the remainder of the day lost in thought and memory. She allowed herself that one day each year, on this tragic anniversary. Tomorrow, she would return to the task of caring for the family she loved, and the legacy that would be left to them when she was gone.

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