(122-12-27) Spears At Dawn
Spears At Dawn
Summary: Diplomacy with Dorne is carried out at spear-point. Some spectate.
Date: 27/12/2015 (adjusted to precede Manfryd/Daevon's duel)
Related: None

It's dawn, and Daevon is, where he is every single day, this early, out in the training area, practing with his sword, against one of the household guards.

Rhaegor and Manfryd come out of the manse and into the garden, suited up for a spar of their own. Rumors around Dragon Door indicate this is not the first time they've met on such pretenses, though their meetings have not been regular in their occurence or in terms of the particular time at which they meet. This morning, it is bright and early. Very bright. Very early. Rhaegor's squire trails behind the men, carrying the prince's spear. Rhaegor stops, when he spies Daevon engaged in the very same activity, with the guardsman. And then he turns to receive the spear, choosing a place for he and Manfryd well enough away from the other dragon.

Manfryd's own spear is carried tucked into the crook of his arm, casually held up against his shoulder as he uses his free hand to pop the remains of an orange fruit into his mouth. The swagger is there, behind his every step, glancing up at the sun with a stretching of his eye lids, squinting as his gaze descends because of the sudden halt that Rhaegor makes. Dark eyes mark the form that Rhaegor spots, lingering on the pretty boy simply to watch his form. Then the last piece of orange is popped in as he walks on with Rhaegor, letting the spear slide down his arm to be clutched in hand. "I might like to practice spear throws today…" tone off handed, but the way he glances back to calculate the distance required, is anything but.

Hours yet remain before the customary time of Princess Vhaerys Targaryen's royal levee, attended by her trio of dragonseed handmaidens, the lady Vysena Velaryon, and — not to put too fine a point upon it — the invisible, illusory presence of her late husband, Prince Vhaeron. And yet the commotion this morning on the second floor of the Dragon Door Manse, the general raucousness of certain of its other inhabitants, has rendered sleep impossible and driven her early from her bed, with too sour a stomach and too vexed a disposition to take her breakfast or to settle in with a book.

It's amusement, then, that she's seeking, some compensation for the derailment of her sacrosanct routine, and her cousin Rhaegor whom she relies upon to provide it. She has heard of his 'friendly' matches with Manfryd Qorgyle. She has yet to witness one. Why not? A dragonseed girl arrives first, carrying a chair which she positions safely on the sidelines; the princess herself, attired against the dawn chill in finely-tooled dark red leathers, with her whitening golden hair in two braids and those braids coiled together on the back of her head, comes a moment later and seats herself with one ankle crossed over the other and her hands resting easily in her lap.

Daevon murmurs a few words of praise to the guardsman as they finish that particular rote of swordmoves. Fortune has had it that the practice times have not collided until now, for all that Daevon is a creature of habit. He looks… no glares is it, or perhaps the sun's just in his eyes, over at Rhaegor and Manfryd. "Good morning." He calls over. Polite. Or at least his best attempt at it, for all his tone likely indicates there's nothing particularly good about that morning.

"Indeed it is, cousin," Rhaegor offers in return, a call across the garden. He does not say why. Vhaerys knows why. The sound of it woke her up, after all. He gives Manfryd a look, at his comment regarding the agenda of their training session. And he says, "I think I require further practice to hand." One can tell from observing him and the way that he wields it that the spear is not his native weapon, but he eschews his sword in favor of it, when he spars with Manfryd. Further evidence of his acclimation to Dornish modes. When Vhaerys comes out into the garden to sit and spectate, he bows his head to her.

Desmond ambles out of the Manse, clad in his heavy brigadine armor, lugging a heavy practice sword — specially forged to resemble Giantsblade in length. His face brightens as he spots Daevon, heading in that direction. But then a trace of wariness crosses it — as easy to read as an open page — when he sees Manfryd and Rhaegor. Without seeming to hurry, he begins to lengthen his stride, closing the distance until he is standing alongside Daevon. Looming, really. He smiles down at the Targaryen Prince. "Your Grace. Forgive me for having overslept."

Rhaegor earns a rather exasperated expression from Manfryd, as the Scorpion shrugs his shoulders to the agenda staying as what it was. The notes of good morning directed their way (from Daevon) do not deserve a response other than the sight of Manfryd's back turned to him. He ambles across the gardens to the location that Rhaegor and he tend to use, for the rumoured practices. The agility of the spear is demonstrated with a rather fanciful spin, twirling the heavy length of wood as if it were a stick. "More of the same it is," he starts to stretch using the spear to aid him through the paces, nodding to Rhaegor to do the same. Warming up the muscles for spear fighting was an important step.

Daevon's fortunately oblivious to anything that might make Rhaegor's morning particularly good. He is observing Manfryd and Rhaegor, can't help it. There's a smile for Desmond when he arrives. "You don't have to join me," Daevon reminds.

Rhaegor, by contrast, is consumed with the task at hand. The task, of course, being his quest for self-improvement. He attempts, as he always does, to mimic the easy grace with which Manfryd manipulates the spear. Only one of them looks like a professional, to Daevon's watchful eye. But still, their lessons have at least advanced Rhaegor from amateur to novice, and he shows proof of some elementary experience with the weapon. Enough to not embarass himself outright. Not enough to compare to Manfryd as an equal.

The walls of the luxuriously-built royal manse are equal to stifling most everyday occurrences — but not, alas, Emira of Dorne. Thus does Vhaerys raise a sardonic eyebrow at her remarkably bright-eyed and bushy-tailed cousin as he greets her in turn with that very correct bow of his head. "You owe me a good morning, Rhaegor," she calls to him by way of a sour reminder; "I've not seen you handle a spear and I must confess to a certain curiosity." But then the display of arms begins in earnest; she rests her elbow upon the carven arm of her chair and her chin in the palm of her hand, watching intently.

"I wouldn't miss it," remarks Desmond, his accent thick this morning. He leans on his mock Giantsblade, watching Rhaegor and Manfryd with a detached gaze. "It's a showy style," he remarks softly to the Maiden's Knight. "Reminds me of the waterdancers." He glances over at Vhaerys, gauging her with frank curiousity — and just enough humility to be, perhaps, ignored. "She was at my duel," he remarks softly to Daevon.

Daevon's going to watch, he's not even going to hide the fact that he's watching the spar between Manfryd and Rhaegor. His eyes mostly upon Manfryd as he studies the man's moves. She who? Oh that'll involve looking away and he glances in Vhaerys' direction for but a moment. "Ah." It's his only comment on everything.

DAMN. If they're impressed and think the STRETCHING is like water dancing, wait until they see the actual thing! Manfryd watches as Rhaegor goes through the drills to warm up, making a few pointers to the other's movements to improve one's form. The spear was alike and dissimiliar to the sword in many ways. It was more graceful, as it required an agility, but at the same time, strength was not to be laughed at. Getting a spear thrust to one's chest was a sure way to die as any other. Manfryd stalks a slow circle around Rhaegor, shooting a look over his shoulder toward Daevon - pursing his lips and making a 'kiss' like gesture toward him. He's still stretching too before he rolls his shoulders, nodding to Rhaegor, offering over to him, "Just because your… Targaryen friends are watching, doesn't mean I'll let up."

DAMN. If they think the STRETCHING is like water dancing, wait until they see the actual thing! Manfryd watches as Rhaegor goes through the drills to warm up, making a few pointers to the other's movements to improve one's form. The spear was alike and dissimiliar to the sword in many ways. It was more graceful, as it required an agility, but at the same time, strength was not to be laughed at. Getting a spear thrust to one's chest was a sure way to die as any other. Manfryd stalks a slow circle around Rhaegor, shooting a look over his shoulder toward Daevon - pursing his lips and making a 'kiss' like gesture toward him. He's still stretching too before he rolls his shoulders, nodding to Rhaegor, offering over to him, "Just because your… Targaryen friends are watching, doesn't mean I'll let up."

Rhaegor is an eager pupil, it seems. He receives the critique well, and endeavors to employ it immediately upon receipt. Improving his form. Adjusting his stance. Shifting his grip. Vhaerys requested, after all, an entertaining showing. Rhaegor does his level best to oblige. He moves through the cycles of the preparatory moves, his spear like the extension of his already long reach; he points it at the air, and at Manfryd, in equal measure. "I'd expect no less," he offers in turn, seizing the opportunity of the Scorpion's distraction to go headlong into the spar without any warning but the sudden strike he volleys Manfryd's way.

Desmond tilts his head speculatively as he regards the fight.

"See how he speaks? How he has to make a performance of it? I saw this in Braavos," Desmond offers to Daevon as he watches. His voice is pitched to carry. "Among amateur bravos. The young ones, who'd just left their tutors for a night of wine and fun." He tsks softly. "No. But watch Rhaegor. He comes at his opponent like he means to kill him, not flirt with him." There's approval in the huge Northman's voice. "It's in the attitude. I wouldn't wager which is the better man with a spear, but I wager I know which'd kill surer."

Daevon's calculating. He's also listening and watching, intently. And that mocking kiss gets no reaction at all. He may not have even noticed. He presses his lips together at Desmond's words and is that a sound of disagreement? Perhaps not, perhaps just a noncomittal 'mhm'.

Manfryd uses the butt of his own spear to deflect the in coming volley, immediately turning on the pivot rotation of the spear to counter with the same butt end of the spear, twisting in flash of sand silk robes to come at Rhaegor with a series of leading strikes. These strikes are baiting, simple, provoking his opponent to cease the openings he's offering, using the tell tale flashes of his weapon and arm raises to guide the fight. It was with Rhaegor's first move into the spar that stole Manfryd's complete attention, despite the voice carrying with the mocking of tone. There was one voice - he handled an entire arena hounding and hissing him in the tournaments! For now, it seems he's absorbed in the fight he was facing and not the one yet to come.

Rhaegor compensates for a weak offensive game with a strong defensive one, and sparring in leather rather than plate affords him additional ease in sidestepping and evading Manfryd's efforts to reach him. Now and again he parries with a strike of his own. Each time, it's with full commitment to his intent. Waiting until he can make a good showing. Holding back when it will be a weak one. Playing to his strengths. He has begun to learn how to anticipate the movement of the spear, to chart its graceful courses. He seizes the advantage of reading one of Manfryd's tells to skirt nearer to the Scorpion, pivoting on his feet so that his back is briefly to the onlookers, but when he comes away and the vantage point is restored, the Scorpion looks no worse for wear. He must have blocked the effort, even at the closer range.

Desmond watches the fighting interestingly. When Rhaegor cuts in front of Manfryd, a frown crosses the grizzled Northman's features.

"He ought to have touched, there," he murmurs in a soft aside to Daevon. "Rhaegor must have missed his strike." But his eyes are narrowed. He leans forward intently, as though seeking for the clues to some puzzle.

The instant that Rhaegor gets near is a short one. Manfryd comes away from it with an adjustment to his spear hold, starting to walk toward Rhaegor with the spear spinning between his hands, a grin on his face. Rhaegor might know that grin. It's laced with arrogance and rage, tempered only because of the effort it takes to spar. The walking spin of the spear stops with a blunt ended snap down against Rhaegor's spear, that traps the weapon and opens up Rhaegor for a groin chest kick - one he doesn't put full energy behind or even effort (he was there to teach the dragon not kill him). "Remember, the spear is not the only weapon." A familiar nod is given as if he scored a point, "Reset and come again." He gives Rhaegor the opportunity to find his balance again, while it also gives Manfryd the opportunity to stalk in a circle and glance over at Desmond and Daevon.

Daevon's still just watching. Again he says nothing to Desmond's commentary and keeps his own to himself.

"Always kick," reminds Desmond to Daevon with a fond little smile. "Except when kicking's the wrong thing to do." He's watching the battle intently. There's a curiousity in his gaze, a faint tension in the way he adjusts his grip on his blade.

Rhaegor narrowly avoids the kick, but it leaves him ill-balanced and on bad footing, so that when Manfryd tells him to reset and make another try, he does just that. Rhaegor circles the Scorpion like he would any prey, orbiting the Dornishman in a slow, wary way, gauging him. Preparing. When he makes his next effort, he makes it with a calculated surge, transferring his weight and power through the shaft of the spear, so that it soars through the air in a wild arc toward Manfryd, his grip on it demonstrating rather fine form. He makes a low sound with the exertion, but does not distract himself with words.

Yes, Princess Vhaerys was in attendance when the Snow Giant crushed the Scourge of Qarth. She didn't appear impressed then and nor does she now, for she is not one of those women who swoon and blush and fan themselves in the presence of such displays of masculine prowess. Nonetheless her violet Valyrian eyes never falter in their intelligent inspection of the — among Targaryens — unusual combat in progress, never glaze over or wander off to admire an interesting cloud. Indeed they are inclined to narrow with interest at the very moments when, say, Ser Desmond Snow is speculating aloud nearby about what one of the combatants ought to have done, and she might be suspected of listening closely even to the instructions Manfryd Qorgyle bestows upon her cousin and filing them away in the depths of her keen mind.

The thing with spears, is that sometimes the movements required to deflect, parry, and attack, happen within heart beats of one another. There's a flurry of activity once Rhaegor comes at Manfryd again, the spears connecting with a sequence of clattering. The need for agility becomes clear as the spear can be used to swipe at legs, launch forward in a menacing thrust, or several tiny jabs that counter a man's speed with a blade. Then there's the short snappish movements that mean to disarm and stun. The weapon in the right man's hands, was vicious as a blade and not as cumbersome. Some blades could chop and slash, there was nothing more fancy to it than swinging it around. This, a man could bounce out of the way with a nimble leap while the extension of his arm swirled behind him to block and snap aside the attacks that had been aimed at the body. It's with this devilish dance that Manfryd takes Rhaegor into, one that was difficult for a novice to keep with - however, Rhaegor had skill with the sword and other means of fighting, so not everything was from the ground up having to be trained. Senses and instincts were still there. The dragon does get a solid hit on Manfryd's leg, which sends the Scorpion's one knee to the dirt - a vulnerable position if one didn't have a spear in hand. He sweeps into the reverse bow and thrusts up as he regains his balance. The fight carries.

Daevon's approached by a servant and steps aside to listen to them. After a few short moments he needs to make his excuses and go, calling Desmond to join him.

Reluctantly, Desmond turns away from the fight, muttering further commentary. He follows Daevon obediently out of the Garden, glancing over his shoulder periodically.

The spar is a vigorous one, and no doubt it is entertaining enough to satisfy Vhaerys's whim. It wages on for a quarter hour longer, or perhaps twice that long, until at last the Dragon yields to the Scorpion, lowering his spear in a submissive gesture that few men have ever seen Rhaegor Targaryen make. He slams Manfryd on the back with his palm, a bro gesture if there ever was one, the exertion of their dance causing sweat to bead upon his flesh. His squire is swiftly on hand to collect both spear and leather, fucking back off thereafter to see to caring for the items. Rhaegor guides his Dornish guest toward his esteemed cousin, who has been their most faithful of spectators. "I hope you were amused," he tells her.

Sitting as though her chair were a throne and her pale golden braids a crown Vhaerys greets the sweating young warriors with a slight broadening of her wide red mouth into a smile. "I was, cousin," she allows; "and in time I may even forgive you for waking me at such an hour. I am not at all familiar with the use of the spear but in such hands," this is for the Dornishmam, "I see why it is regarded as a weapon both formidable and graceful."

The intensity of the battle was prolonged in that each strike or movement was a chance to teach Rhaegor, simple lessons done without full force so that Rhaegor could improve. It was only when Rhaegor showed submission that Manfryd backed off from his stances and slammed the butt of his spear down by his ankle, resting the shaft in the crook of his arm, while his grip turned down to hold it parade fashion. There was a smug look to him at the slam of a hand, satisfied that Rhaegor was happy with the bout despite the loss. He tosses his own spear at Rhaegor's poor squire, taking a flask in turn off his belt, cracking it open, twisting the top off, and pouring a guzzle of whatever was in it down his parched throat. After a gulp, he mutters to Rhaegor, "I'd offer you a swig, but it'd land you on your fucking ass." He grins, "Best you ask your squires for some water." He follows along with Rhaegor toward the guest, while securing that flask back on his hip. Manfryd glances to Rhaegor then toward Vhaerys for the compliment, brow quirked.

Rhageor abides the taunt where the flask is concerned; his initial good humor has only been improved by another successful spar. His first since suffering the wounds he sustained in his duel with Desmond Snow. Wounds enough to prevent him even contemplating wielding a weapon, much less attempting to use it. He's still careful, and by turns slow, but it's a marked improvement from his initial inability to even lounge comfortably.

"Princess Vhaerys Targaryen," he declares to Manfryd, when the golden Dragon addresses him and compliments his prowess with the spear. And for her benefit, though it's likely utterly needless, he says, "Manfryd Qorgyle. A cousin of Emira's."

This elder princess of House Targaryen steeples the fingers of her long slender hands and studies this new specimen presented for her attention. "The vaunted Scorpion," she drawls. "My, what a family you're wedding into, Rhaegor. Almost as charming as ours." Yet her tone is mild enough, for addressing the unrepentant killer of Aelyn Targaryen.

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