(122-08-19) Dragon Rising
Dragon Rising
Summary: Plans are laid in the quest to reclaim Visenya's hatchlings.
Date: 19 August 2015
Related: The Will of the King; Dragon Dreams

To say that Rhaegor has been difficult to nail down since their return to the city doesn't quite encapsulate things just right, because Rhaegor has always been a busy man and has always had a million things to attend to during his time spent in Oldtown. King's business, dragon business, knight business, Hightower business. It is the same now, only there have been few attendances at social functions, and almost no visits with Visenya, who was once his touchstone in town. Some days he goes out riding, dawn to dusk, sometimes til the next dawn or the next. Some days he is neither seen nor heard from at all. It's early morning and he's presently sparring with some of his men in the courtyard at Dragon Door Manse, a habit from before the recent trip to Dorne that he's not been quite so routine with since the return. Rhaegor spars like it's for all the marbles, intense and even a bit reckless, pressing his Velaryon partner as if he were foe and not friend.

They say that Visenya has not left the Hightower since arriving in Oldtown a married woman. Prince Torren has been spotted more often than she, but his goals all seem to be diplomatic in nature; forming a trade alliance with the Velaryon's as the Sea Snake's navy is larger than even the King's, settling grievances between Reach houses and Dornish houses on the border. The sight of the Dornish husband but not the once beloved Princess has been the subject of rumors.

It must be a surprise when Visenya rides into the courtyard on the black mare that was once a gift from Rhaegor, and followed by a Dornish lady and several Martell men for protection. She dismounts on her own, and lets her men handle her horse while she steps inside the Manse. Or, rather, she would if it weren't for the sparring in the courtyard. So, instead she waits patiently for it to conclude.

She's made to wait a while, Visenya, for though Rhaegor's men take notice of her arrival, stand down their own practice bouts and do some throat clearing and apologetic glancing her way, he himself is oblivious and his Velaryon counterpart would only interrupt their spar at his own peril. And so the courtyard is treated to a concert of swords clashing, boots on stone, and the occasional grunt of effort from the only two men who do not put up their arms at Visenya's arrival. Finally Rhaegor's opponent calls out to yield, and the dragon prince throws off his helm and makes a brief, gutteral cry of victory.

There is the sound of a clap. Visenya is clapping for him, but she is the only one. That is until her young companion begins to clap hesitantly. "Bravo, Prince Rhaegor." Visenya says, and there is perhaps only a little bit of wryness to her voice. And now that there are not men trying to stab each other with swords she walks from the courtyard towards the manse proper.

Rhaegor's sweaty and scruffy, his hair and beard both having grown a bit during their sojourn, and left unchecked besides. He sweeps it back from his face after shedding the helm, his young squire having run up to catch it before it hit the stone. Only the clapping tears him from his post-win reverie, and he bristles, glancing over his shoulder to identify the source. Her words get a nod of his head, but while his men bow their heads to her deferentially, he only turns back to his squire to unload his sword.

It is at least twenty minutes before Visenya returns from out of the manse with her companion. "The Dornish manse is much smaller than this one, I believe. So we cannot have the same layout, and I think we ought to have the majority of the party indoors. It should be slightly exotic, but comfortable. We do not want to put off our guests." That said she dismisses the girl with a nod of her head, and approaches Rhaegor. She does not bother with a preamble. Instead she says, "They have been found. In the desert like I dreamed."

In the intervening twenty minutes, some of his men finished their sparring and dispersed, but Rhaegor and a small few remain in the courtyard, discussing various technical-sounding tactical strategies for direct combat at close range. He's removed his armor but still has his sword to hand, and Rhaegor whirls on his feet and lunges with his blade to demonstrate something he's just described, unintentionally swinging the weapon in Visenya's general direction as she approaches. And so they are faced eye to eye, for the first time in some time, and there is nothing of apology in his wild, feverish stare when he withdraws the blade from the air in her vicinity. It hangs forgotten at his side, his palm loose on the hilt, in the wake of her words. "Found? Where?"

Another woman might have screamed. Visenya stands perfectly still and stares at her cousin with a bit of an impatient look. "Excuse us." She says to his companions in a manner that does not brook argument, but is still an appropriate tone for a woman to speak to men in. "I would like a word with my cousin." She waits for them to go before she levels her gaze on Rhaegor. "What has gotten into you?"

Rhaegor nods, when she tells his squad to go, and they do promptly. But it may as well have taken a lifetime for the suspense palpable in Rhaegor's expression, the way he goes tense with it, anxiously closing his hand on the hilt of his blade, the firm grip causing muscles to cord all the way up his arm. It's like he doesn't even hear her question, because as soon as she breaks the silence to ask it, he presses her, "Where are the dragons?" The look in his eyes is eerily familiar to her in the way of looking into a mirror, for they've blood in common in their respective veins. Obsessive. Manic.

Visenya stares at Rhaegor for several heartbeats before she finally says, "They are at an Oasis in the Dornish desert." Her tone is more gentle now. "Put down the sword, Rhaegor. Then we can talk more about it." She takes a step back away from him then as for the first time in knowing each other she is afraid of him. As afraid as she is of herself sometimes. "Come…?" She says, and then she starts towards the house proper again.

Rhaegor's gaze flickers, briefly, when she takes that step back, as if some part of him realizes what it means, even if he is immune to feeling anything much about it just now. Instead he looks down at his blade, as if he didn't even realize he was still holding it, as if wondering what it was doing in his hand. His squire is gone, so he just drops it, letting it clang on the cobblestone. But she turns to go inside, and that's no good. "Why do we not ride for Dorne?" he asks, sharply. "We can be ready within the hour. Go and get your husband and we will get your dragons." And what of his dragon? "Is she with them?"

Visenya lets out an audible sound of relief when he drops the sword. "Because I wanted to tell you first." She says to Rhaegor once she has stopped to regard him. She is careful not to tell him he is unwell as she understands better than anyone else how disastrous such a statement may be. "And ask your counsel regarding it." Her amethyst colored eyes sweep over him before she says, "I don't know. The reports we have are vague. Children saw my dragons eating figs at a dried out oasis, and they say the oasis is no longer dry. This means that perhaps something very big has burrowed down to cause water to flow again."

It is a fair bit of information, and Rhaegor's effort to process it all is written in his eyes, in his expression, as he works through it with a lucid glimmer of focus borne of determination and the very same thing that inspires his dragon fever. His pale stare goes distant, but it is sharp now, and he scans the horizon as he thinks. "Children. More credible than men. We won't want to make too large a party to avoid attracting attention. But if it is a ploy in the vein of the scheme with the viper, we won't want to take chances." He speaks quickly, a reflection no doubt of the speed of his thoughts. "Perhaps Prince Torren should not ride with us. He is a head but not a sword. A fighting man in his stead would help Emira and I ensure your safety."

"Torren can use a sword." Visenya says this perhaps a bit defensively. "He just isn't as good as you. He was a squire and almost a Knight before he was heir." She purses her lips together to avoid a frown before she continues on, "And he will be invaluable to us in the desert. He is good with words. No offense to your bride-to-be, but she does not hold the adoration of the people like Prince Torren does. If he is with us our passage will be much smoother."

Rhaegor is nothing if not dubious, but he isn't sporting to argue about it, either. "Adoration," is the only bit of her speech he singles out, echoing the word with an undercurrent of disdain. Clearly he doesn't attribute the same value to that notion as she does. But still, he's obviously still consumed with the bit of information she's given him. With more logic and reason than his earlier insistence that they leave immediately, he says, "We should not hesitate too long to ride. A trail does not take long to go cold." Or dry, as the case may be.

"We can leave word with Lord Ormund that we shall be away, and slip out tonight." Visenya says, "We shall say that I have taken ill, and Torren is attending to me." There needs to be no excuse made for Rhaegor. He is already gone so often that it would be no surprise if he were gone again. "Perhaps you should bring two of your Velaryon men with you?"

Rhaegor paces, a bit, to expend some of the anxious energy that courses through him now. "Yes," he says, when she suggests the ruse for leaving the Hightower. And again, "Yes," when she suggests he bring his two best men. "We will be ready," he says, looking up once more to the sky. Always, to the sky. Finally, at last, he meets her gaze. He'd avoided it for most of their encounter, and when he finds it now his own is still wild, but the heat of it has been cut with clarity. Focused. In check, if a bit tenuous.

When he meets her gaze Visenya looks back at him. There is affection there, but it has been tempered. Dampened. She does not allow herself to look at him in the manner she once did. But there is also worry, "Do not let yourself burn so hot that it consumes you." Her voice is gentle and afraid, but this time more for him than herself. "You are too important to be consumed. Too needed."

Rhaegor's gaze flickers at her words, but he does not otherwise acknowledge what she alludes to, knowing well enough that the leash he'd managed to get a firm grip on after his time in Qarth, his hold upon it had begun to slip. "I promised that I would do everything in my power to see your dragons returned to you," he says, in a voice more familiar than feverish. A reference to the last time they'd discussed riding to Dorne. When he revealed their betrothal hadn't been blessed by the King. When she revealed the hatchlings had been lost. He says nothing of importance or need. But the fervor that lurks in the depths of his pale violet eyes confirms the extent to which the blood of the dragon boils in his veins.

"You are." Visenya says to Rhaegor. "You are doing everything in your power." She hesitates a moment before she admits, "You frightened me earlier. Never have I been afraid of you before. You hold everyone's esteem not just because you are a grand warrior, but also because you are temperate and clever and wise, and that is why the King trusts you. Do not lose yourself. Please."

And now Rhaegor takes his gaze away again, fixing it on some distant point like he can't bear to look at her. Shame, perhaps. For what has he prided himself on if not his self-control, since the dark days following the slaying of his dragon? "I am taking measures," he says, tightly, to reassure her. But he doesn't elaborate, and his tone doesn't invite questions.

"Do not think I do not understand, Rhaegor." Visenya almost reaches out to touch him, but she stops herself. He is no longer hers to touch. "For while mine is different I have battled with it since I was a girl." His look of shame almost brings tears to her eyes, but she suppresses them and nods her head. "I will send you a tea that is made for me. The Valyrian archmaester made the recipe up for me before he went on expedition."

"Thank you," Rhaegor says, at length, but without meeting her gaze again. It is genuine, and communicates more than just the face value of the words. The earlier tension has crept back into his frame, and he remembers, suddenly, the sword on the ground. But before he stoops to retrieve it, he says, "I must see to certain preparations." And so must she, after all.

"It is no trouble. We shall be ready tonight." Visenya says to Rhaegor. She then steps towards the horses where her Martell men, men who are tasked with protecting her now that her safety in the Reach is uncertain, and her Dornish lady-in-waiting waits for her. She mounts the black mare smoothly and without assistance, and then wheels her about to ride out.

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