Redgate- 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.