(123-05-27) Madness in the Family
Madness in the Family
Summary: Visenya and Vaedarys have an academic and personal discussion.
Date: Date of play (27/05/2016)
Related: None

Very few men beyond the Prince himself get to go into the bedchambers shared by him and Princess Visenya. And none of them get to have very much fun, either. Unless Vaedarys counts his research as fun. But either way here the maester is sitting with the heir Prince of Dorne's very pregnant wife inside their personal chambers. Visenya is on the floor with pillows strategically placed behind her back and under her belly. She is sipping on a goblet of watered wine while she lets Vaedarys look her over. "I always thought it was archmaester Thane's recipe. Well, he never claimed it was his. I suppose a man with such an interest in the occult as to be the Valyrian Steel archmaester cannot be a serious physician as well."

"Don't take me as suggesting that Archmaester Thane has been unduly recognized by the Citadel, or that he is unworthy of his post, but I have always believed that the study of the Valyrian mind, and its occasional mania, is best left to true Valyrians. A link of steel is strong, but a link of blood is stronger." Maester Vaedarys, a man in his silver years, is dressed all in black; his habit, even in Dorne. But he has adopted robes in the southron style, compensating for the heat of the sun and its inevitable attraction to the dark colors he favors. He has an easy charisma and a slick charm, not exactly the stereotypical impression you'd expect to receive from an academic sort. But then, his reputation is for being unconventional. His wine is unwatered, and he drinks from it in unison. "I regret not having had the opportunity to work with you directly, from your earlier years, but I am glad of the success the archmaester was able to achieve by consulting my works."

"I agree completely." Visenya says easily as she swirls the wine in her goblet idly. "They do not understand us completely." Despite her advanced pregnancy the Princess is dressed beautifully in a gown of painted sandsilk that has been made to look like rippling water. "I also regret it. All of that time wasted in fits of rage. I don't even feel like I am the same person. Talking about my younger self feels like talking about an unfortunate cousin." She gives the maester a curious look then, "You said I was the only woman to have a child while drinking your tea?"

"If it would interest you to add some of my works to your library, I can make reproductions available. Most of my writings are intended to remain within the family." Vaedarys is seated with a low table before him, rather than among the pillows as Visenya is, on account of the journal he has open, and the quill and ink on hand to notate the pages with observations from their meeting. The Velaryon offers her an understanding smile at the bit about her younger self feeling so foreign, and it brings out the lines around his eyes, which in turn makes him seem all the more distinguished. "We are rarely, today, the person we were yesterday," he observes, touching the quill's tip into the pot, wetting it with ink.

"Most of the young dragons who have benefitted from the tea have discontinued its use by their childbearing years. You, of course, came to it later. It would be helpful in assessing whether or not you should continue if you could reflect upon any changes in your moods these last few moons."

"It would." Visenya says, but nods in understanding when he says the books are meant to remain within the family. She sits up a little as she listens to him speak, and when he finishes she asks, "Do they discontinue the use because their madness lessens in later age?" By the expression on her face it's clear that she doubts this is the case. Once a lunatic always a lunatic. "Changes in my mood?" She bites her bottom lip before she says, "Sometimes I cry more than I usually would. Over silly things. But beyond that I haven't noticed any drastic changes."

"In some it becomes viable to take the tea less frequently, or only as needed, rather than to drink it daily. To take it daily over a prolonged period of time can lessen its efficacy." Vaedarys says this carefully, noticing the way that Visenya straightens. No, the madness doesn't lessen; the treatment becomes less effective. "But we should think of your mind as a young one that has only recently begun to stabilize. Continue the tea for now, but in time, with further study, we may find an alternative for you. If it is still benefitting you, even with the child growing in your womb, it would be best not to make any changes that might upset the balance you have achieved."

Visenya manages to not look overly alarmed when he says the tea is not effective forever. There is only a brief flash of fear in her eyes, but otherwise she keeps her composure. A look is given to her handmaiden before she holds out her goblet, "I'll have unwatered." She has a decent swallow once her goblet is refreshed. "I see." She says, and she follows this with another swallow of wine. "You have had success using different treatments?"

"It was good fortune that Archmaester Thane was able to recommend the brew, but even better that we can now explore an option uniquely suited to your needs. Tell me, what has been the biggest change between then and now?" And Vaedarys readies his quill again, expecting to hear something worth writing down.

"I raged." Visenya says in explanation of how her madness effected her. "Others have delusions. I was just angry. I would hurt people either through violence or through manipulating others. And I enjoyed it." She looks down into her cup thoughtfully, "Now I do not threaten my servants. Or try to set things on fire. Or slap people. Or try to ruin their reputations. I was cruel. Mean. Nasty."

The scratch of the quill accompanies a series of short notes that Vaedarys makes. His expression never changes, and maybe that's comforting. He's written entire case studies on some of the Taragaryens he's worked with, and a little rage pales in comparison to the various ways the mania can manifest. "Cruelty and madness aren't necessarily bedmates," he observes, temporarily setting down the pen and lifting his Valyrian eyes to meet Visenya's.

Looks back into Vaedary's eyes a moment, and she looks confused. "But why would it go away if it wasn't madness?" She sits up completely with some effort, and props herself up with her hands. "I started drinking the tea and it went away. If it wasn't madness then it was just…me?"

"It isn't uncommon for young dragons to explore their newfound strength and power by testing and torturing those around them. The instinct may have been calmed by the tea, and also by the passage of time. Even still, tomorrow you might do a cruel thing and enjoy it, and it isn't a sure sign of anything but that you're a living, breathing creature with the capacity to be cruel as much as to be kind." Vaedarys makes another note, but only briefly, and it seems to flow from something he's said rather than she.

Visenya shakes her head and says, "But I had no power. In fact, that was my only power…" She falls silent, and an expression that is as pensive as it is troubled crosses her face. When she finally does speak she asks, "Should I start weaning myself off of the tea to see if this is true?"

Vaedarys chooses the moment Visenya falls silent to smile at her, watching the pregnant princess consider the connection she's drawn while he imbibes a bit of wine. "I would counsel against it. It's suiting you well, and you seem not to have experienced a diminishing effect. Becoming a mother will present challenges you've never faced before. I would suggest we wait a few months before considering any changes."

"Oh goodness. Isn't that what the wet nurse is for?" Visenya asks with a slight smile to suggest she is speaking in jest. Her smile does not remain on her face for long, however, and it soon returns to that slightly troubled look. "Have you seen signs of madness in children who will be like mine?" She asks suddenly, "Half-dragons?"

"There is a risk," Vaedarys admits, abandoning the note taking and leaning back in his seat, to more fully give the princess his undivided attention. "But it is very much lessened with the introduction of a new bloodline." Now it's the maester's turn to make a jest. He says, "Though if the legends of Dornish hotheadedness are true, I can't promise the child won't be prone to rages of its own."

"I always assumed the madness was a result of our breeding practices." Visenya says, and she finishes off the wine in her goblet, but does not call the servant for more. "Is there any evidence to show that madness was an issue during the time of the Freehold?" She smiles at his joke, and it lights up her darker violet eyes in a way that can only be genuine.

"It's hard to know if the mania developed in the bloodline over time, or if it was there from the earliest days in a form that differs from its current one. Certainly the dreams have been carried down from Old Valyria, so it isn't unlikely that all the rest did, as well. The purity of the blood grants us our gifts, but also condemns us to certain miseries." Vaedarys finishes his wine as well, and he does accept a second pour.

"I had wondered if extinct Valyrian bloodlines also showed madness. I heard marrying siblings was practiced in the Freehold, but it would have been less frequent since there were other Valyrian families to marry into?" That troubled look on Visenya's face fades ever so slightly as she muses over the possibilities. "I have never heard of a mad Velaryon or Celtigar, however."

Vaedarys makes one further annotation in his journal. "I'm just adding a tome to the list of volumes for your library. It strikes me you'll enjoy it, given your interest in this subject." His voice is a low muse while he writes, and then he lays aside the quill once more. "It has been more common for Targaryen blood to influence the other lines than for the Targaryen line to be subject to Velaryon or Celtigar influence. And so, of course, everything is strongest in the blood that runs through your house."

Vaedarys indulges in a drink of wine, and then changes the subject, somewhat, to inquire, "Is your twin prone to any symptoms, either alike or different than yours?"

"I would enjoy that. Thank you." Visenya says of a tome on the subject. She nods her head in understanding when he explains that Targaryen bloodlines are the more influential. As for Daevon? "No. But Daevon has always been the opposite of me. We're like two very different halves of the same soul. I got all of the ferocity and cunning, and he got all of the sweetness." She smiles wryly, "Although there are probably some that would say he is not sweet at all, I suppose."

Visenya adds in an afterthought, "My younger sister Cerys is as mad as they come, though."

This prompts some further scribbling. "I have been considering formulating some of my various research notes into a study on twins in just that vein. It's not uncommon to see distillations of specific traits in one or the other in the way you've just described." Vaedarys continues scratching away, seeming momentarily to drift into his own thoughts for further reflection, until Visenya mentions her younger sister. "Any other siblings?"

"Princess Vhaerys would be an interesting study on that." Visenya observes. "She wed her twin, and I don't mean to gossip, but the poor Prince has been dead for so long, and yet she still carries on conversation with him as if he were right there." She frowns a little before admitting, "I don't think it's good to marry twin to twin. I was to marry Daevon, and it would have been a disaster." She shakes her head. "Just Cerys."

Vhaerys. The maester comes to full attention at her name, turning away from his journal and back to Visenya. "I have so heard," he says, academic intrigue ringing in his tone. Vaedarys asks no further questions about Cerys; the widowed twin has usurped her place in his train of thought. "Any observations you've made from your time spent with her would be quite useful to me."

"I have not spent much time in Princess Vhaerys company so I could not be a good judge of her character." Visenya says, but this is said as a statement of fact and not an excuse to backtrack. "But I don't know if I would call her mad. Most of the mad people I know are like children, but she is no child."

"No, indeed. I believe her mind has somehow sheltered itself from the losses she has suffered, perhaps to prevent a descent into madness. I have decided the best way to examine her directly might be to solicit her academic opinion on a false study modeled loosely upon her own situation. My hope is it might provide further understanding of her mind's inner workings and the mechanisms protecting her." Vaedarys seems to take Visenya easily into his confidence, sharing these details with her freely.

"She lost her dragon, her twin, and her husband in the same moment." Visenya observes before she says quietly, "I also have those three things, and if I were to lose all three of them at once? I would probably throw myself out of a tower." She furrows her brow ever so slightly before she says, "You'd better hope she never finds out it is a false study, maester. That woman has the fortitude to be a force of destruction and ruin."

And here is the first real proof that Vaedarys may have been worthy of her father's distrust. When Visenya warns him against ever revealing the true nature of his study to Vhaerys, and more, against aiding her in breaking down her mind's defenses, he smiles a smile that might send a shiver down her spine. Perhaps unintentionally, Visenya has pinpointed his exact aims.

Visenya stares at Vaedarys with a look of stunned amazement on her face at that smile. She doesn't look afraid. It will take more than an academic to frighten her, but she does look stunned. And more than a little curious. It is this curiosity that wins out. "And what will you do if she releases this rage and determination on you, maester?"

"Withstand it, and then write about it." Vaedarys seems unconcerned with his own fate, to the point that he's able to jest freely in response to Visenya's very legitimate question. The worst of his smile fades, but now that she's seen it, everything it inspired sort of lingers between them. "You can see why I find it a fascinating course of study," he suggests, based on her briefly stunned expression.

"If she doesn't destroy you and your book-" Visenya begins, and she looks slightly outraged, but still curious. Very curious. "It will be an interesting read. I would like a copy when you finish." She begins the slow process of rising, and along with it a dismissal. "Thank you for coming, Maester."

But Vaedarys is quicker to his feet, and he closes his journal after checking that the ink is dry. "And if she does, it will have been well worth the risk," he suggests before offering Visenya a respectful, deferential bend at the waist. "Thank you for your time, your grace." And he offers her a hand to rising, if her handmaid doesn't beat him to it.

Visenya does take Vaedarys hand for assistance, but once she is up she doesn't release his hand. "Oh, and maester?" She looks into his eyes again, and smiles prettily. "If you ever do something like that to my brother or me I shall make sure no one remembers you. Princess Vhaerys may not have the resources for that, but I do." Her pretty smile widens until her white teeth show. She releases his hand. "Do enjoy your stay in Dorne." That said, she turns to walk into her inner chambers.

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