(122-07-06) An Ironical Interlude
An Ironical Interlude
Summary: Alaeyna arrives at Sunspear, and reunites with an old friend, Torren Martell.
Date: 6 July 2015
Related: Seeds of Peace

The progress of the Targaryens of King's Landing and Oldtown to Sunspear has also lured Dornish lords and ladies to court from their keeps and strongholds. For some, it may be the first time they will have had the occasion to meet and socialize with the Blood of the Dragon. The reception of Prince Rhaegor and his kin varies from hot to cold among the nobility; some support peace with the Crown, and others have decried it in their great halls for years.

Alaeyna Fowler has made the journey to Sunspear from Skyreach with her companion, Maelys Targaryen, and a traveling party made up of both their sworn swords and spears. But she seeks Torren out on her own, dressed in fine amber silks belted above the swell of a belly swollen with child. "My prince," she greets him warmly, with a kiss to either of his cheeks. "Far too many moons have traveled the sky since last I laid eyes on you."

For his part, Torren displays all outward signs of being amenable to the visit, as well as the reason for it. Of course, he is his mother's son, and any misgivings he might have had would certainly have been communicated only in private. To most everyone else, he's perfectly composed, though that is not surprising. It's certainly not the first time people got married to solidify ties between what otherwise might be contentious houses, and the fact that he'd been married before does not enter into it.

When Alaeyna approaches him, he smiles, the expression perhaps a touch softer than his usual one. "My lady," he returns, and his eyes drop down to the obvious reminder of the fact that she will soon be carting around an infant. "They have. And soon I will be certain not to see you at all until that one is weaned." His smile pulls a little bit wider at this as an eyebrow raises. "How have you fared since we last met?"

Alaeyna's dark stare glitters with amusement at that, a hand going to rest atop her belly when he makes mention of her condition. It must not be rendering her too delicate, or else she'd not have made the journey. But this is Dorne, after all, and one of the more colorful rumors about the Fury of Skyreach alleges she won a knife fight with a Qorgyle while heavy with her first child. But the humor in her expression fades, going stony when he asks how time has kept her. "I heard that your darling wife was among the slain at the Red Rookery," she says, her voice low and flinty with undercurrents of rage and disdain. "As I live and breathe, their killers will know what it is to die screaming."

Torren's own smile fades at the shift, though his expression is more impassive than angry. But he has never been publicly consumed with grief, so this may be no surprise to her. Privately is, again, another matter. "Thank you," he replies. "You know what those words mean to me." Though he is not one of those calling out for more bloodshed, the little edge his voice has developed may better hint at his true feelings.

"And how are your guests?" he asks, shifting again as a hint of his smile returns, this one a bit more like the ones he is well-known for, laced with just a hint of sardonic amusement. "I imagine your have been quite busy these past weeks."

What is not said is as communicative as what is, and there has long been this sort of understanding between them. House Fowler's words, Let Me Soar, are nothing if not an appropriate reflection of its scions' penchants toward action rather than passivity, distinguishing them as valuable instruments of the Martells. So when Torren thanks her as he does, Alaeyna is satisfied to incline her head in a nod and say no more of it.

"The Prince of Ashes's men have taken to calling me Dragonrider," she shares wryly, a wickedly depraved grin eclipsing features that only a moment ago were stern with want of vengeance. "We are to have a tournament at Skyreach for the Targaryen party along its return to Oldtown. The first since my father's death. I hope it will be amusing." She demurs from commenting, exactly, about what else they've been keeping occupied with.

Torren, too, might as well have been not talking about the other topic, for as much as he shows it now. "Oh? How…diverting." There's a laugh in his voice when he answers her, and his eyes move down again to her abdomen very briefly, before meeting hers again. "I'm sure we shall all find our own ways to enjoy ourselves," he continues, reaching to cross his arms over his chest. "And we do have a responsibility to be hospitable to our guests. I'm glad you have taken that no doubt onerous to heart, Lady Alaeyna."

"As you will no doubt prove hospitable to your new Targaryen bride," she says in kind, misliking something about the way Torren flicks his cool stare up and down her. She is notoriously mercurial, and there's no mistaking the taunt that underrides the innocent way in which she muses aloud, "I only wonder that the Targaryen king could not produce from among his kin a proper maiden for Amarei's heir. Do you think it was for want of being able to find one, or do they reckon our Dornish blood boils so hot in our veins we shouldn't mind?" There's the glint of a challenge in her dark stare. Proof, indeed, that neither the years nor the babe in her belly have softened her sharp tongue.

The goad in Alaeyna's voice only serves to make Torren, if anything, more amused. "No doubt," he confirms, "though I cannot imagine I will be entirely to her liking, considering that she is barely older than Mariya." If he's disturbed by the insinuation — or, indeed, outright statement — about Visenya's maidenhood or lack thereof, it doesn't show. "Perhaps they thought I would prefer it," he continues, "considering I am five-and-thirty and a widower. Some men have no fetish for maidens." He gives her a meaningful look at this, but then he laughs, a real laugh, without the bite his words had.

She joins him in the laugh that follows his pointed look, a grin lingering on her face in its wake. "Any man worth having wants a woman by his side, not a girl," Alaeyna agrees, no doubt referencing her own Targaryen prize, in addition to the Dornish prince himself. "I hope that she proves an agreeable companion." And there's no taunt in that particular sentiment, there being no particular question in her mind that he would make a worthy match to any woman worth her salt. There's an air, too, of deference to the memory of his Blackmont wife, who had been of an age with Alaeyna and a friend from her childhood at the Water Gardens.

This is how it always has been between them, and there's something comforting about the normalcy of the interaction. He nods in response to her first words, and then after the well wishes, replies, "Thank you. I am sure she will. And perhaps provide a little happiness to my mother in not too long, considering Kella's condition when she died." A flicker of real pain can be seen in his expression at these words, and though it's gone quickly, he doesn't bother to hide that from her. "I know a child of ours would bring her joy." It's telling that he says 'child,' not 'heir,' where he generally might. It softens the statement.

It's likely no surprise that his words prompt Alaeyna to once more lay a palm to rest upon the swell of her belly, her own expression strikingly solemn for the span of a heartbeat or two. But it's a passing thing, like the ripple of tension between them moments earlier, now entirely forgotten, in the fashion utterly characteristic of their relationship. "I can assure you that the same effect has been had on my mother's spirits. We have known more than our fair share of death and mourning. I'll not begrudge anyone the happiness they might find, even if between a Targaryen's thighs." He can read her well enough to sense that she's but scratched the surface in what she's told him about his future bride, secrets rife in the toothy smile she flashes him.

Torren returns her smile, his own a little bit more wry this time. "We could do with some," he agrees, his eyes sliding past hers for a moment as his expression becomes more thoughtful. He certainly didn't miss the undercurrent. "My future bride is very beautiful," he says cagily, "though distraught, it seems at the dissolution of her betrothal to Prince Rhaegor." He looks back to meet Alaeyna's eyes again, "I met her in the gardens last night. Though she said it was due to the thought of being wed to one of my uncles." This gets another laugh, a bit more harsh, since any young woman — indeed, anyone with eyes and a brain — could imagine why this would be distressing. "Youthful fancies can be forgotten with time." There's an unspoken question lurking there, though, as one eyebrow tics slightly up as he regards her.

Alaeyna has a manner of fixing someone in her sights that can be intimidating to lesser men. He's not one such, of course, but she studies him intently just the same, having learned a thing of two about reading him over the years. It's altogether no different than the way he watches her. "What once robbed us of our sleep tends to be forgotten entirely with the passage of time," Alaeyna agrees, in a measured tone. That question left unspoken? She says, "But it's something different to allow yourself to imagine a life with another person, and have that dream die unrealized." The way she says it, it's conceivable she's as much speaking from personal experience as she is about the Princess Visenya. In the end, her counsel is simple. "I know you to be an able judge of character. Take your own measure of her, and see what it is you find."

Torren meets her gaze head-on; he's used to it by now, of course, and he appreciates her sound judgment as much as, or more than, her ready wit. He doesn't reply right away, but just lets her finish the entirety of what she's going to say, and when she does he's still looking more solemn than he had in some parts of this conversation, it would be obvious to her that he's also appreciative. "Wise council," he finally says with a nod. "And of course, the match is advantageous. One great love is more than any man can hope for, and I have had that, so I am content." He smiles here, with just a hint of resignation. "I must see to some things for my mother," he says. "But it was good to see you, my lady. Let us not go so long between meetings again." And this, of course, is perfectly sincere, as he leans forward to kiss her farewell.

By Alaeyna's reckoning, her honest counsel is but part and parcel with her duty as a vassal of the Martells, and more specifically, as a friend of the prince's. "Do not betray her for thinking to find that same happiness again," Alaeyna tells him, and maybe the babe has made her a little soft in the heart after all. She accepts his kiss and returns it in kind when they make their parting. "Let us dine together, if we might find occasion to do so. And now go, lest Amarei think I conspired to keep her son from his obligations." And like that, she ends with the flash of a wink, letting him return to the business of being heir to Sunspear, and to Dorne.

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