I find myself wondering if I did something wrong this year. Broke some tradition, desecrated an idol or cursed some god in a drunken stupor so bad they decided to curse me.
In the last 2 months I have been a prisoner to 3 of the great Houses. Tully, Arryn and Starks. I always thought the first timewould be when father finally decided to dispose of me, or Cersei framed me for some crime and I was imprisoned in the Black Dungeons. The fact my family is the first suspects for my potential imprisonment is saddening to say the least.
I somewhat doubt my last method of freedom will repeat, from what I gathered after asking the kingdom’s situation. In the Eyrie I was falsely accused of a crime and used the right of Trial by Combat to escape. Lysa even tried to deny me that right, restricting my champion to being present, meaning I couldn’t ask for my brother. It was fortunate that Bronn was available to stand for me. I promised him riches and position in exchange for keeping me alive.
When Arya pointed me out, he could have denied knowing who I was, betrayed me or something. Instead he took the risk to offend a group of armed men to secure our escape I know he did what he did for purely selfish reasons. I was the highest payer for his services and he thought he could get out of the situation with a hostage. I still owe him a debt and I can no longer repay him.
To my current circumstances, it has been several days since my encounter with this group, and we have finally passed the Bloody Gate and have entered the Riverlands. Baskerville decided we would switch from the High Road to the countryside, making my journey much more unpleasant. I keep my complaints to myself, as after finding the precise nature of my captor only reinforces the previous threat.
Ser Ben Baskerville, greatest knight in the North, owner of the Bloody Hound... and killer of Joffrey Baratheon, my nephew and the late king of Westeros. The first 2 titles were ones I heard in Winterfell, when the whores would tell me stories of the interesting characters in the North, he was at the top of the list. I lacked the opportunity to meet this fabled knight, as occupied with avoiding the drag of noble etiquette’s, something I greatly miss. It was so long since I had heard the tales and the likelihood of him being in the Vale was so small that it didn’t come to mind that he was Ser Baskerville until I identified Arya Stark.
The third title was a great shock, as was the events that led to it. I do find some amusement in the fact the little shit was a king for all of one day before being killed. Given his personality it was inevitable, but I thought it woud take at least a week. The death of Robert Baratheon, my family declaring war on the Tullys, Ned Starks death and the subsequent rebellion of the North, it is all enough to make me want to return to my sky cell. At least I only had to worry about one direction, rather than be surrounded by people who want me dead.
At least if I am going to be captured by anyone, the North seems the best option so far. After the first day I was freed from most of my restraints. Other than a rope tied around my waist, limiting me from getting more than 2 metres from my guard, the ropes binding my arms and legs were removed. Baskerville said if I got free, I would just be tracked and killed so I am free to run if I wish. Needless to say, I am not willing to chance escape on the odds of me out running the mountain that is Brutus.
They have given me equal parts of food and water, and thanks to the presence of Arya, there are frequent breaks. When I questioned Baskerville of my likely fate, I was told I would be handed over to Robb Stark, and from there I would be exchanged for Sansa Stark, who is currently still in Kings Landing. That is a relief.
If I am to be used in exchange for Robb Starks sister, he should keep me in decent condition until the point she is free. I doubt father would be willing to bow his head for my sake, and if I was instead being held for ransom or to force a surrender that could make my experience... uncomfortable.
I have heard many stories of what my father does to men when he needs to send a message, and I worry the Starks may go to similar lengths.
Doran Martell POV
“We will not attack King’s Landing.” I tell my brother, Oberyn, who has just burst into the room.
One week ago, I received several ravens from different sources. One of them came from Tommen ‘Baratheon’ the newly coronated king. I could tell the words were not his own, though the writing was reminiscent of a child writing very slowly to ensure it was neat. The message requested that I head to King’s Landing to join him in celebrating his recent succession.
A laughable excuse, one that only a child would believe. The one behind the letter was likely the now Queen Regent, Cersei Lannister. If I went to the capital, the only ones celebrating would be the Lannisters, as I was forced to bend the knee and call my forces to fight their battles. No, only fools would trust the Lannisters intentions after what happened to Eddard Stark.
Many people in Westeros believe that we in Dorne hate the Royal family and their supporters. This is wrong, at least in mine and the majority cases. I hate only the Lannisters, for they were the ones to rape and murder my family.
I held no hate for Robert, but also no love for him. He was justified in his rebellion. Aerys was an insane man who spurned Dorne and my family. When my sister birth to her children, the mad king refused to hold his grandchildren or offer them any sort of love. He said they smelled of Dorne, at times describing them as sheep who were privileged to be born from a dragon’s seed.
Even during the war, he dismissed and scorned us. When my uncle, Lewyn Martell, fell at the Trident, instead of feeling remorse for his loyal Kingsguard, he only felt suspicion. The Mad king thought that when his son, Rhaegar, died it was due to my uncle betraying him, despite the fact my uncle died before Rhaegar. Because of this Aerys held my sister and her children hostage in the Red Keep when he sent his wife and other children away to Dragonstone.
I do not hate Rhaegar for his disloyalty to my sister. Though Ellia loved him and gave him children, we Dornish know better than any that our hearts are not so simple. Rhaegar loved another, and for that I do not fault him. Aerys paranoia and arrogance in front of my people, on the other hand, led to the deaths of my family, and wounds that hurt Dorne to this day.
What Robert did, or I should say didn’t do, was punish the Lannisters. When they raided the city, murdered my sister and her children, they were not punished for committing such vile war crimes. They were rewarded by marrying the king and being welcomed to court, while Dorne was scorned.
Eddard Stark on the other hand, was a man I respected and who respected us in return. Not only did he denounce the Lannisters publicly, he also called for them to be punished. Though he did not succeed he did more than even our former allies, the Tyrells, did. When he defeated Ser Arthur Dane, despite the fact he was believed to have kidnapped his sister, he reacted with honour not rage. Rather than march on House Dane in revenge, he instead returned their ancestral sword, Dawn.
“We don’t have the ability to defeat the Lannisters yet. Striking now would just cause more damage to us than them. You forget we have only just recovered a portion of our strength.” I tell my brother. Though he has spent a large amount of time in Essos over the years, I know he is aware of our condition after the war and presently.
Dorne was the most heavily damaged in the war. Not only did we send the most troops to fight for Aerys, but we are the furthest from the main battles at the Trident and Crownlands. We were given almost no support from the crown or our allies, so we had to empty our treasuries and granaries just to support our troops.
When the fighting stopped, I submitted, though declined to bend the knee, to Robert, to the dismay of my countrymen. Future events proved my actions were correct. The war with the Iron Islands showed that Robert was a warmongerer. There were arguments among my countrymen that Robert was weakened, and with the Dornish Marshes, our greatest natural defence, he would never take the risk to invade. They were wrong, Robert would have taken any excuse to go to war, and with most of our forces dead or scattered, no money or food we could not fight him.
“I know brother, you are afraid for our people.” Oberyn says as he pours himself and me a glass of wine. “I listened to you back then because I knew you were right. We were weak and our enemies were strong. Now is different.” He takes a seat opposite me.
“It is as you said, we have recovered our strength from before, and this time you are prepared. I know all about the spies you planted. When they looked down at you.” Oberyn gestures to my wheel chair. “They underestimated you. When they lowered their guards you planted eggs in their gardens, eggs that have hatched into vipers ready to strike.”
“I know that when I travelled in Essos, the men you sent with me weren’t just to keep an eye on me. They were ambassadors and emmissaries. Our former allies were false ones, those who when the time came, they used our fallen bodies as steps to climb the ladder.” Oberyn takes a drink before getting to the important matter.
I smile as he tells me all this. I knew he was aware of my actions. I am one of the few people that seem to remember that while my brother is a drunk, lust-filled warrior... he is also one of the most learned and well-travelled men in Westeros. He studied at the citadel and could have become an arch maester. He has travelled most of the known world, visited dozens of cultures and interacted with their people. Granted most of those interactions were with their women, but that is beside the point.
“I am well aware of my actions these past years, just like I know you were as well. It was the reason you never hid your intentions, why you always acted so extravagantly. The other powers always paid attention to you while my people were allowed to work in secret.” I reveal my brothers disguise. He has always been the more brazen one, and his hatred for our enemies is true. But he is no fool, who would constantly warn his enemies of his position. Not unless it had a purpose.