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ARIANNE
All along the south coast of Cape Wrath rose crumbling stone
watchtowers, raised in ancient days to give warning of
Dornish raiders stealing in across the sea. Villages had grown
up about the towers. A few had flowered into towns.
The Peregrine made port at the Weeping Town, where the
corpse of the Young Dragon had once lingered for three days
on its journey home from Dorne. The banners flapping from
the town’sstout wooden walls still displayed King Tommen’s
stag-and-lion, suggesting that here at least the writ of the Iron
Throne might still hold sway. “Guard your tongues,” Arianne
warned her company as they disembarked. “It would be best if
King’s Landing never knew we’d passed this way.” Should
Lord Connington’s rebellion be put down, it would go ill for
them if it was known that Dorne had sent her to treat with
him and his pretender. That was another lesson that her father
had taken pains to teach her; choose your side with care, and
only if they have the chance to win.
They had no trouble buying horses, though the cost was five
times what it would have been last year. “They’re old, but
sound,” claimed the hostler. “you’ll not find better this side of
Storm’s End. The griffin’s men seize every horse and mule

they come upon. Oxen too. Some will make a mark upon a
paper if you ask for payment, but there’s others who would
just as soon cut your belly open and pay you with a handful of
your own guts. If you come on any such, mind your tongues
and give the horses up.”
The town was large enough to support three inns, and all
their common rooms were rife with rumors. Arianne sent her
men into each of them, to hear what they might hear. In the
Broken Shield, Daemon Sand was told that the great septry on
the Holf of Men had been burned and looted by raiders from
the sea, and a hundred young novices from the motherhouse
on Maiden Isle carried off into slavery. In the Loon, Joss Hood
learned that half a hundred men and boys from the Weeping
Town had set off north to join Jon Connington at Griffin’s
Roost, including young Ser Addam, old Lord Whitehead’s son
and heir. But in the aptly named Drunken Dornishman,
Feathers heard men muttering that the griffin had put Red
Ronnet’s brother to death and raped his maiden sister. Ronnet
himself was said to be rushing south to avenge his brother’s
death and his sister’s dishonor.
That night Arianne dispatched the first of her ravens back to
Dorne, reporting to her father on all they’d seen and heard.
The next morning her company set out for Mistwood, as the
first rays of the rising sun were slanting through the peaked
roofs and crooked alleys of the Weeping Town. By

midmorning a light rain began to fall, as they were making
their way north through a land of green fields and little
villages. As yet, they had seen no signs of fighting, but all the
other travelers along the rutted road seemed to be going in the
other direction, and the women in the villages they passed
gazed at them with wary eyes and kept their children close.
Further north, the fields gave way to rolling hills and thick
grove s of old forest, the road dwindled to a track, and
villages became less common.
Dusk found them on the fringes of the rainwood, a wet
green world where brooks and rivers ran through dark forests
and the ground was made of mud and rotting leaves. Huge
willows grew along the watercourses, larger than any that
Arianne had ever seen, their great trunks as gnarled and
twisted as an old man’s face and festooned with beards of
silvery moss. Trees pressed close on every side, shutting out
the sun; hemlock and red cedars, white oaks, soldier pines
that stood as tall and straight as towers, colossal sentinels,
bigleaf maples, redwoods, wormtrees, even here and there a wild
weirwood. Underneath their tangled branches ferns and
flowers grew in profusion; sword ferns, ladyferns, bellflowers
and piper’s lace, evening stars and poison kisses, liverwort,
lungwort, hornwort. Mushrooms sprouted down amongst the
tree roots, and from their trunks as well, pale spotted hands
that caught the rain. Other trees were furred with moss, green

or grey or red-tailed, and once a vivid purple. Lichens covered
every rock and stone. Toadstools festered besides rotting logs.
The very air seemed green.
Arianne had once heard her father and Maester Caleotte
arguing with a septon about why the north and south sides of
the Sea of Dorne were so different. The septon thought it was
because of Durran Godsgrief, the first Storm King, who had
stolen the daughter of the sea god and the goddess of the
wind and earned their eternal emnity. Prince Doran and the
maester inclined more toward wind and water, and spoke of
how the big storms that formed down in the Summer Sea
would pick up moisture moving north until they slammed
into Cape Wrath. For some strange reason the storms never
seemed to strike at Dorne, she recalled her father saying. “I
know your reason,” the septon had responded. “No
Dornishmen ever stole away the daughter of two gods.”
The going was much slower here than it had been in Dorne.
Instead of proper roads, they rode down crookback slashes
that snaked this way and that, through clefts in huge mosscovered rocks and down deep ravines choked with blackberry
brambles. Sometimes the track petered out entirely, sinking
into bogs or vanishing amongst the ferns, leaving Arianne and
her companions to find their own way amongst the silent
trees. The rain still fell, soft and steady. The sound of moisture
dripping off the leaves was all around them, and every mile or

so the music of another little waterfall would call to them.
The wood was full of caves as well. That first night they took
shelter in one of them, to get out of the wet. In Dorne they had
often travelled after dark, when the moonlight turned the
blowing sands to silver, but the rainwood was too full of bogs,
ravines, and sinkholes, and black as pitch beneath the trees,
where the moon was just a memory.
Feathers made a fire and cooked a brace of hares that Ser
Garibald had taken with some wild onions and mushrooms he
had found along the road. After they ate, Elia Sand turned a
stick and some dry moss into a torch, and went off exploring
deeper in the cave. “See that you do not go too far,” Arianne
told her. “Some of these caves go very deep, it is easy to get
lost.”
The princess lost another game of cyvasse to Daemon Sand,
won one from Joss Hood, then retired as the two of them
began to teach Jayne Ladybright the rules. She was tired of
such games.
Nym and Tyene may have reached King’s Landing by now,
she mused, as she settled down crosslegged by the mouth of
the cave to watch the falling rain. If not they ought to be there
soon. Three hundred seasoned spears had gone with them,
over the Boneway, past the ruins of Summerhall, and up the
kingsroad. If the Lannisters had tried to spring their little trap

in the kingswood, Lady Nym would have seen that it ended in
disaster. Nor would the murderers have found their prey.
Prince Trystane had remained safely back at Sunspear, after a
tearful parting from Princess Myrcella. That accounts for one
brother, thought Arianne, but where is Quentyn, if not with the
griffin? Had he wed his dragon queen? King Quentyn. It still
sounded silly. This new Daenerys Targaryen was younger
than Arianne by half a dozen years. What would a maid that
age want with her dull, bookish brother? Young girls dreamed
of dashing knights with wicked smiles, not solemn boys who
always did their duty. She will want Dorne, though. If she hopes
to sit the Iron Throne, she must have Sunspear. If Quentyn was the
price for that, this dragon queen would pay it. What if she was
at Griffin’s End with Connington, and all this about another
Targaryen was just some sort of subtle ruse? Her brother could
well be with her. King Quentyn. Will I need to kneel to him?
No good would come of wondering about it. Quentyn
would be king or he would not. I pray Daenerys treats him more
gently than she did her own brother.
It was time to sleep. They had long leagues to ride upon the
morrow. It was only as she settled down that Arianne realized
Elia Sand had not returned from her explorations. Her sisters
will kill me seven different ways if anything has happened to her.
Jayne Ladybright swore that the girl had never left the cave,
which meant that she was still back there somewhere,

wandering through the dark. When their shouts did not bring
her forth, there was nothing to do but make torches and go in
search of her.
The cave proved much deeper than any of them had
suspected. Beyond the stony mouth where her company had
made their camp and hobbled their horses, a series of twisty
passageways led down and down, with black holes snaking
off to either side. Further in, the walls opened up again, and
the searchers found themselves in a vast limestone cavern,
larger than the great hall of a castle. Their shouts disturbed a
nest of bats, who flapped about them noisily, but only distant
echoes shouted back. A slow circuit of the hall revealed three
further passages, one so small that it would have required
them to proceed on hands and knees. “We will try the others
first,” the princess said. “Daemon, come with me. Garibald,
Joss, you try the other one.”
The passageway Arianne had chosen for herself turned steep
and wet within a hundred feet. The footing grew uncertain.
Once she slipped, and had to catch herself to keep from
sliding. More than once she considered turning back, but she
could see Ser Daemon’s torch ahead and hear him calling for
Elia, so she pressed on. And all at once she found herself in
another cavern, five times as big as the last one, surrounded
by a forest of stone columns. Daemon Sand moved to her side
and raised his torch. “Look how the stone’s been shaped,” he

said. “Those columns, and the wall there. See them?”
“Faces,” said Arianne. So many sad eyes, staring.
“This place belonged to the children of the forest.”
“A thousand years ago.” Arianne turned her head. “Listen. Is
that Joss?”
It was. The other searchers had found Elia, as she and
Daemon learned after they made their way back up the
slippery slope to the last hall. Their passageway led down to a
still black pool, where they discovered the girl up to her waist
in water, catching blind white fish with her bare hands, her
torch burning red and smoky in the sand where she had
planted it.
“You could have died,” Arianne told her, when she’d heard
the tale. She grabbed Elia by the arm and shook her. “If that
torch had gone out you would have been alone in the dark, as
good as blind. What did you think that you were doing?”
“I caught two fish,” said Elia Sand.
“You could have died,” said Arianne again. Her words echoed
off the cavern walls. “…died… died… died…”
Later, when they had made their back to the surface and her
anger had cooled, the princess took the girl aside and sat her
down. “Elia, this must end,” she told her. “We are not in Dorne
now. You are not with your sisters, and this is not a game. I
want your word that you will play the maidservant until we

are safely back at Sunspear. I want you meek and mild and
obedient. You need to hold your tongue. I’ll hear no more talk
of Lady Lance or jousting, no mention of your father or your
sisters. The men that I must treat with are sellswords. Today
they serve this man who calls himself Jon Connington, but
come the morrow they could just as easily serve the
Lannisters. All it takes to win a sellsword’s heart is gold, and
casterly Rock does not lack for that. If the wrong man should
learn who you are, you could beseized and held for ransom–”
“No,” Elia broke in. “You’re the one they’ll want to ransom.
You’re the heir to Dorne, I’m just a bastard girl. Your father
would give a chest of gold for you. My father’s dead.”
“Dead, but not forgotten,” said Arianne, who had spent half
her life wishing Prince Oberyn had been her father. “You are a
Sand Snake, and Prince Doran would pay any price to keep
you and your sisters safe from harm.” That made the child
smile at least. “Do I have your sworn word? Or must I send
you back?”
“I swear.” Elia did not sound happy.
“On your father’s bones.”
“On my father’s bones.”
That vow she will keep, Arianne decided. She kissed her
cousin on the cheek and sent her off to sleep. Perhaps some
good would come of her adventure. “I never knew how wild

she was till now,” Arianne complained to Daemon Sand,
afterward. “Why would my father inflict her on me?”
“Vengeance?” the knight suggested, with a smile.
They reached Mistwood late on the third day. Ser Daemon
sent Joss Hood ahead to scout for them and learn who held
the castle presently. “Twenty men walking the walls, maybe
more,” hereported on his return. “Lots of carts and wagons.
Heavy laden going in, empty going out. Guards at every
gate.”
“Banners?” asked Arianne.
“Gold. On the gatehouse and the keep.”
“What device did they bear?”
“None that I could see, but there was no wind. The banners
hung limp from their staffs.”
That was vexing. The Golden Company’s banners were
cloth-of-gold, devoid of arms and ornament… but the banners
of House Baratheon were also gold, though theirs displayed
the crowned stag of Storm’s End. Limp golden banners could
be either. “Were there others banners? Silver-grey?”
“All the ones that I saw were gold, princess.”
She nodded. Mistwood was the seat of House Mertyns,
whose arms showed a great horned owl, white on grey. If their
banners were not flying, likely the talk was true, and the castle
had fallen into the hands of Jon Connington and his

sellswords. “We must take the risk,” she told her party. Her
father’s caution had served Dorne well, she had come to
accept that, but this was a time for her uncle’s boldness. “On to
the castle.”
“Shall we unfurl your banner?” asked Joss Hood.
“Not as yet,” said Arianne. In most places, it served her well
to play the princess, but there were some where it did not.
Half a mile from the castle gates, three men in studded
leather jerkins and steel halfhelms stepped out of the trees to
block their path. Two of them carried crossbows, wound and
notched. The third was armed only with a nasty grin. “And
where are you lot bound, my pretties?” he asked.
“To Mistfall, to see your master,” answered Daemon Sand.
“Good answer,” said the grinner. “Come with us.”
Mistfall’s new sellsword masters called themselves Young
John Mudd and Chain. Both knights, to hear them tell it.
Neither behaved like any knight that Arianne had ever met.
Mudd wore brown from head to heel, the same shade as his
skin, but a pair of golden coins dangled from his ears. The
Mudds had been kings up by the Trident a thousand years
ago, she knew, but there was nothing royal about this one. Nor
was he particularly young, but it seemed his father had also
served in the Golden Company, where he had been known as
Old John Mudd.

Chain was half again Mudd’s height, his broad chest crossed
by a pair of rusted chains that ran from waist to shoulder.
Where Mudd wore sword and dagger, Chain bore no weapon
but five feet of iron links, twice as thick and heavy as the ones
that crossed his chest. He wielded them like a whip.
They were hard men, brusque and brutal and not well
spoken, with scars and weathered faces that spoke of long
service in the free companies. “Serjeants,” Ser Daemon
whispered when he saw them. “I have known their sort
before.”
Once Arianne had made her name and purpose known to
them, the two serjeants proved hospitable enough. “You’ll stay
the night,” said Mudd. “There’s beds for all of you. In the
morning you’ll have fresh horses, and whatever provisions
you might need. M’lady’s maester can send a bird to Griffin’s
Roost to let them know you’re coming.”
“And who would them be?” asked Arianne. “Lord
Connington?”
The sellswords exchanged a look. “The Halfmaester,” said
John Mudd. “It’s him you’ll find at the Roost.”
“Griffin’s marching,” said Chain.
“Marching where?” Ser Daemon ask.
“Not for us to say,” said Mudd. “Chain, hold your tongue.”
Chain gave a snort. “She’s Dorne. Why shouldn’t she know?

Come down to join us, ain’t she?”
That has yet to be determined, thought Arianne Martell, but she
felt it best not to press the matter. At evenfall a fine supper
was served to them in the solar, high in the Tower of Owls,
where they were joined by the dowager Lady Mertyns and her
maester. Though a captive in her own castle, the old woman
seemed spry and cheerful. “My sons and grandsons went off
when Lord Renly called his banners,” she told the princess
and her party. “I have not seen them since, though from time
to time they send a raven. One of my grandsons took a wound
at the Blackwater, but he’s since recovered. I expect they will
return here soon enough to hang this lot of thieves. ” She
waved a duck leg at Mudd and Chain across the table.
“We are no thieves,” said Mudd. “We’re foragers.”
“Did you buy all that food down in the yard?”
“We foraged it,” said Mudd. “The smallfolk can grow more.
We serve your rightful king, old crone.” He seemed to be
enjoying this. “You should learn to speak more courteous to
knights.”
“If you two are knights, I’m still a maiden,” said Lady
Mertyns. “And I’ll speak as I please. What will you do, kill
me? I have lived too long already.”
Princess Arianne said, “Have you been treated well, my
lady?”

“I have not been raped, if that is what you’re asking,” the old
woman said. “Some of the serving girls have been less
fortunate. Married or unmarried, the men make no
distinctions.”
“No one’s been doing any raping,” insisted Young John
Mudd. “Connington won’t have that. We follow orders.”
Chain nodded. “Some girls was persuaded, might be.”
“The same way our smallfolk were persuaded to give you all
their crops. Melons or maidenheads, it’s all the same to your
sort. If you want it, you take it.” Lady Mertyns turned to
Arianne. “If you should see this Lord Connington, you tell him
that I knew his mother, and she would be ashamed.”
Perhaps I shall, the princess thought.
That night she dispatched her second raven to her father.
Arianne was on her way back to her own chamber when she
heard muffled laughter from the adjoining room. She paused
and listened for a moment, then pushed the door open to find
Elia Sand curled up in a window seat, kissing Feathers. When
Feathers saw the princess standing there, he jumped to his feet
and began to stammer. Both of them still had their clothes on.
Arianne took some small comfort in that as she sent Feathers
on his way with a sharp look and a “Go”. Then she turned to
Elia. “He is twice your age. A serving man. He cleans up
birdshit for the maester. Elia, what were you thinking?”

“We were only kissing. I’m not going to marry him.”Elia
crossed her arms defiantly beneath her breasts. “You think I
never kissed a boy before?”
Feathers is a man. A serving man, but still a man. It did not
escape the princess that Elia was the same age she had been
when she gave her maidenhead to Daemon Sand. “I am not
your mother. Kiss all the boys you want when we return to
Dorne. Here and now, though… this is no place for kisses, Elia.
Meek and mild and obedient, you said. Must I add chaste to
that as well? You swore upon your father’s bones.”
“I remember,” said Elia, sounding chastened. “Meek and
mild and obedient. I won’t kiss him again.”
The shortest way from Mistwood to Griffin’s Roost was
through the green, wet heart of the rainwood, slow going at
the best of times. It took Arianne and her company the better
part of eight days. They travelled to the music of steady,
lashing rains beating at the treetops up above, though
underneath the green great canopy of leaves and branches she
and her riders stayed surprisingly dry. Chain accompanied
them for the first four days of their journey north, with a line
of wagons and ten men of his own. Away from Mudd he
proved more forthcoming, and Arianne was able to charm his
life story out of him. His proudest boast was of a great
grandsire who had fought with the Black Dragon on the
Redgrass Field, and crossed the narrow sea with Bittersteel.

Chain himself had been born into the company, fathered on a
camp follower by his sellsword father. Though he had been
raised to speak the Common Tongue and think of himself as
Westerosi, he had never set foot in any part of the Seven
Kingdoms till now.
A sad tale, and a familiar one, Arianne thought. His life was all
of a piece, a long list of places where he’d fought, foes he’d
faced and slain, wounds he’d taken. The princess let him talk,
from time to time prompting him with a laugh, a touch, or a
question, pretending to be fascinated. She learned more than
she would ever need to know about Mudd’s skill with dice,
Two Swords and his fondness for red-haired women, the time
someone made off with Harry Strickland’s favorite elephant,
Little Pussy and his lucky cat, and the other feats and foibles
of the men and officers of the Golden Company. But on the
fourth day, in an unguarded moment , Chain let slip a ” …once
we have Storm’s End…”
“The princess let that aside go without comment, though it
gave her considerable pause. Storm’s End. This griffin is a bold
one, it would seem. Or else a fool. The seat of House Baratheon
for three centuries, of the ancient Storm Kings for thousands
of years before that, Storm’s End was said by some to be
impregnable.Arianne had heard men argue about which was
the strongest castle in the realm. Some said Casterly Rock,
some the Eyrie of the Arryns, some Winterfell in the frozen

north, but Storm’s End was always mentioned too. Legend
said it was raised by Brandon the Builder to withstand the
fury of a vengeful god. Its curtain walls were the highest and
strongest in all the Seven Kingdoms, forty to eighty feet in
thickness. Its mighty windowless drum tower stood less than
half as tall as the Hightower of Oldtown, but rose straight up
in place of being stepped, with walls thrice as thick as those to
be found in Oldtown. No siege tower was tall enough to reach
Storm’s End battlements; neither mangonel nor trebuchet
could hope to breech its massive walls. Does Connington think
to mount a siege? She wondered. How many men can he have?
Long before the castle fell, the Lannisters would dispatch an
army to break any such siege. That way is hopeless too.
That night when she told Ser Daemon what Chain had said,
the Bastard of Godsgrace seemed as perplexed as she was.
“Storm’s End was still held by men loyal to Lord Stannis when
last I heard. You would think Connington might do better to
make common cause with another rebel, rather than making
war upon him too.”
“Stannis is too far away to be of help to him,” Arianne
mused. “Capturing a few minor castles whilst their lords and
garrisons are off at distant wars, that’s one thing, but if Lord
Connington and his pet dragon can somehow take one of the
great strongholds of the realm … ”
“…the realm would have to take them seriously,” Ser

Daemon finished. “And some of those who do not love the
Lannisters might well come flocking to their banners.”
That night Arianne penned another short note to her father
and had Feathers send it on its way with her third raven.
Young John Mudd has been sending out birds as well, it
seemed. Near dusk on the fourth day, not long after Chain and
his wagons had taken their leave of them, Arianne’s company
was met by a column of sellswords down from Griffin’s Roost,
led by the most exotic creature that the princess had ever laid
her eyes on, with painted fingernails and gemstones sparkling
in his ears. Lysono Maar spoke the Common Tongue very
well. “I have the honor to be the eyes and ears of the Golden
Company, princess.”
“You look… ” She hesitated.
“…like a woman?” He laughed. “That I am not.”
” …like a Targaryen,” Arianne insisted. His eyes were a pale
lilac, his hair a waterfall of white and gold. All the same,
something about him made her skin crawl. Was this what
Viserys looked like? she found herself wondering. If so perhaps it
is a good thing he is dead.
“I am flattered. The women of House Targaryen are said to
be without peer in all the world.”
“And the men of House Targaryen?”
“Oh, even prettier. Though if truth be told, I have only seen

the one.” Maar took her hand in his own, and kissed her
lightly on the wrist. “Mistwood sent word of your coming,
sweet princess. We will be honored to escort you to the Roost,
but I fear you have missed Lord Connington and our young
prince.”
“Off at war?” Off to Storm’s End?
“Just so.”
The Lyseni was a very different sort of man than Chain. This
one will let nothing slip, she realized, after a scant few hours in
his company. Maar was glib enough, but he had perfected the
art of talking a great deal whilst saying nothing. As for the
riders who had come with him, they might as well have been
mutes for all that her own men were able to get out of them.
Arianne decided to confront him openly. On the evening of
their fifth day out of Mistwood, as they made camp beside the
tumbled ruins of an old tower overgrown by vines and moss,
she settled down beside him and said, “Is it true that you have
elephants with you?”
“A few,” said Lysono Maar, with a smile and a shrug.
“And dragons? How many dragons do you have?”
“One.”
“By which you mean the boy.”
“Prince Aegon is a man grown, princess.”

“Can he fly? Breathe fire?”
The Lyseni laughed, but his lilac eyes stayed cold.
“Do you play cyvasse, my lord?” asked Arianne. “My father
has been teaching me. I am not very skilled, I must confess,
but I do know that the dragon is stronger than the elephant.”
“The Golden Company was founded by a dragon.”
“Bittersteel was half-dragon, and all bastard. I am no
maester, but I know some history. You are still sellswords.”
“If it please you, princess,” he said, all silken courtesy. “We
prefer to call ourselves a free brotherhood of exiles.”
“As you will. As free brothers go, your company stands well
above the rest, I grant you. Yet the Golden Company has been
defeated every time it has crossed into Westeros. They lost
when Bittersteel commanded them, they failed the Blackfyre
Pretenders, they faltered when Maelys the Monstrous led
them.”
That seemed to amuse him. “We are at least persistent, you
must admit. And some of those defeats were near things.”
“Some were not. And those who die near things are no less
dead than those who die in routs. Prince Doran my father is a
wise man, and fights only wars that he can win. If the tide of
war turns against your dragon, the Golden Company will no
doubt flee back across the narrow sea, as it has done before.
As Lord Connington himself did, after Robert defeated him at

the Battle of the Bells. Dorne has no such refuge. Why should
we lend our swords and spears to your uncertain cause?”
“Prince Aegon is of your own blood, princess. Son of Prince
Rhaegar Targaryen and Elia of Dorne, your father’s sister.”
“Daenerys Targaryen is of our blood as well. Daughter of
King Aerys, Rhaegar’s sister. And she has dragons, or so the
tales would have us believe.” Fire and blood. “Where is she?”
“Half a world away on Slaver’s Bay,” said Lysono Maar. “As
for these purported dragons, I have not seen them. In cyvasse,
it is true, the dragon is mightier than the elephant. On the
battlefield, give me elephants I can see and touch and send
against my foes, not dragons made of words and wishes.”
The princess lapsed into a thoughtful silence. And that night
she dispatched her fourth raven to her father.
And finally Griffin’s Roost emerged from the sea mists, on a
grey wet day as the rain fell thin and cold. Lysono Maar raised
a hand, a trumpet blast echoed off the crags, and the castle’s
gates yawned open before them. The rain-soaked flag that
hung above the gatehouse was white and red, the princess
saw, the colors of House Connington, but the golden banners
of the company were in evidence as well. They rode in double
column across the ridge known as the griffin’s throat, with the
waters of Shipbreaker Bay growling off the rocks to either
side.

Within the castle proper, a dozen of the officers of the
Golden Company had assembled to welcome the Dornish
princess. One by one they took a knee before her and pressed
their lips against the back of her hand, as Lysono Maar offered
introductions. Most of the names fled her head almost as soon
as she had heard them.
Chief amongst them was an older man with a lean, lined,
clean-shaved face, who wore his long hair pulled back into a
knot. This one is no fighter, Arianne sensed. The Lyseni
confirmed her judgment when he introduced the man as
Haldon Halfmaester.
“We have rooms prepared for you and yours, princess,” this
Halden said, when the introductions finally ran their course. “I
trust that they will suit. I know you seek Lord Connington,
and he desires words with you as well, most urgently. If it
please you, on the morrow there will be a ship to take you to
him.”
“Where?” demanded Arianne.
“Has no one told you?” Halden Halfmaester favored her
with a smile thin and hard as a dagger cut. “Storm’s End is
ours. The Hand awaits you there.”
Daemon Sand stepped up beside her. “Shipbreaker Bay can
be perilous even on a fair summer’s day. The safer way to
Storm’s End is overland.”

“These rains have turned the roads to mud. The journey
would take two days, perhaps three,” said Halden
Halfmaester. “A ship will have the princess there in half a day
or less. There is an army descending on Storm’s End from
King’s Landing. You will want to be safe inside the walls
before the battle.”
Will we? Wondered Arianne. “Battle? Or siege?” She did not
intend to let herself be trapped inside Storm’s End.
“Battle,” Halden said firmly. “Prince Aegon means to smash
his enemies in the field.”
Arianne exchanged a look with Daemon Sand. “Will you be
so good as to show us to our rooms? I would like to refresh
myself, and change into dry clothes.”
Halden bowed. “At once.”
Her company had been housed in the east tower, where the
lancet windows overlooked Shipbreaker Bay. “Your brother is
not at Storm’s End, we know that now,” Ser Daemon said, as
soon as they were behind closed doors. “If Daenerys
Targaryen has dragons, they are half a world away, and of no
use to Dorne. There is nothing for us at Storm’s End, princess.
If Prince Doran meant to send you into the middle of a battle,
he would have given you three hundred knights, not three.”
Do not be so certain of that, ser. He sent my brother off to
Slaver’s Bay with five knights and a maester. “I need to speak

with Connington.” Arianne undid the interlocked sun and
spear that clasped her cloak, and let the rain-soaked garment
slip from her shoulders to puddle on the floor. “And I want to
see this dragon prince of his. If he is truly Elia’s son…”
“Whoever’s son he is, if Connington challenges Mace Tyrell
in open battle he may soon be a captive, or a corpse.”
“Tyrell is not a man to fear. My uncle Oberyn–”
” –is dead, princess. And ten thousand men is equal to the
whole strength of the Golden Company.”
“Lord Connington knows his own strength, surely. If he
means to risk battle, he must believe that he can win it.”
“And how many men have died in battles they believed that
they could win?” Ser Daemon asked her. “Refuse them,
princess. I mistrust these sellswords. Do not go to Storm’s
End.”
What makes to believe they will allow me that choice? She had
had the uneasy feeling that Haldon Halfmaester and Lysono
Maar were going to put her on that ship come morning
whether she willed it or no. Better not to test them. “Ser
Daemon, you squired for my uncle Oberyn,” she said. “If you
were with him now, would you be counseling him to refuse as
well?” She did not wait for him to respond. “I know the
answer. And if you are about to remind me that I am no Red
Viper, I know that too. But Prince Oberyn is dead, Prince

Doran is old and ill, and I am the heir to Dorne.”
“And that is why you should not put yourself at risk.”
Daemon Sand went to one knee. “Send me to Storm’s End in
your stead. Then if the griffin’s plans should go awry and
Mace Tyrell takes the castle back, I will be just another
landless knight who swore his sword to this pretender in
hopes of gain and glory.”
Whereas if I am taken, the Iron Throne will take that for proof that
Dorne conspired with these sellswords, and lent aid to their
invasion. “It is brave for you to seek to shield me, ser. I thank
you for that.” She took his hands and drew him back to his
feet. “But my father entrusted this task to me, not you. Come
the morrow, I sail to beard the dragon in its den.”

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