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Honor & Blood, III: The Watcher

Courtesy HBO's Game of Thrones

Please note: All characters, locations and events are copyright George RR Martin and the events that take place during this game can and will deviate from series canon.

The Story So Far: It is Year 296 since Aegon’s Landing. House Luxon is in the process of returning a trove of stolen blades to their rightful Houses. Victor Luxon has now crossed the sands of Dorne to return the final blades to House Martell. Accompanying him from Sunspear to the Water Gardens is Maester Chrysander, newly appointed to service at Moat Cailin. Cadmon Hightower, however, is nowhere to be found…

They were two, now, while three had entered the Water Gardens.

Areo Hotah was in step behind them, silent, his poleaxe leaned against the crook of his shoulder and his hand resting on its shaft. They walked at a reasonable pace, both for his Prince and for one of their visitors. They said they’d come from House Luxon, far to the north in a castle once ruined. Yet only one of them appeared to be of Northerly stock. He was broad of shoulder and long of gait, even if Hotah was slightly taller. His eyes betrayed neither mirth nor treachery, and his mouth seemed to speak only blunt truths. Hotah admitted he was taking a liking to him.

“I still don’t see why we’re here, while I do appreciate Your Highness’ hospitality.” Victor Luxon pushed Doran Martell across the pink marble floor slowly. The wheels on the chair had been freshly oiled, and made no noise. There was occasionally a metal rattle from Hotah’s armor or a scuff from Victor’s boots, but the sound permeating the hall was the rhythmic clack of the maester’s staff against the floor. The sun glistened on the bald pate of the older man, who had no hair whatsoever on his skull. Even his eyebrows were missing.

“I wanted to show you all that Dorne offers.” The Prince’s voice was set at its most magnanimous. “I can only imagine what you might have heard from the smallfolk in Highgarden on your way here.”

“I had begun to acquire a taste for your Dornish wine in Oldtown.” Victor smiled. “You can tell a lot about a people by their wine.”

“Oh? And what does our wine tell you about us, young Luxon?”

“The wine has a sweet taste, many textures and a warm finish that may burn if you aren’t prepared for it.”

“We had the pleasure of drinking it without it being watered down,” Maester Chrysander observed. “I shudder to think what becomes of it in less civilized parts of the world.”

“I wouldn’t strictly called Oldtown ‘civilzed’.” Victor Luxon was frowning. “It has its share of unruly elements. Mostly in and around the ports.”

“Isn’t your young friend something of a sailor?” Doran turned to look over his shoulder at Victor. “He has that look about him.”

Victor’s hands visibly tightened on the handles of the chair. Hotah noticed this, and the way the maester took a discreet step further away from him.

“He is not what I’d call a friend.”

“Yet you travelled together.”

The maester stepped close again as they walked. “The young master is, ah, of an opposing personality with the heir of Hightower. Born a bastard and raised in the Free Cities, his attitude can be somewhat cavalier at times.”

“He’s a green, vain, arrogant boy, and I trust him about as far as I can throw him.”

Hotah hid a smile. Victor was a capable warrior, it showed in his every movement. It’d be an honor to meet him even in the yard, trading blows. Yet he had all the subtlety of Robert Baratheon’s fabled warhammer.

“You needn’t concern yourself with Cadmon Hightower any longer, young Luxon. He has asked me for the priviledge of staying in Sunspear for the time being, and after hearing his petition I’m of a mind to oblige him.”

Victor Luxon blinked. “Why would he want to do such a thing?”

“Perhaps he fancies one of my daughters. He couldn’t court them anywhere near as well from Moat Cailin, now could he?”

Hotah studied the guests. Luxon simply shook his head, looking disgusted. *He thinks the boy a fool, blinded by lust and power plays.* The maester, on the other hand, seemed locked in his own thoughts. His expression was distant but otherwise inscrutible.

Prince Doran picked up on it. “You seem quiet, Maester Chrysander. Shall I guess your thoughts?”

Chrysander looked to the Prince and smiled. “You might be mistaken, my Prince, at what they are. Perhaps a game of cyvasse instead, with our thoughts as the stakes?”

“That again? Do you play it in your sleep?”

“You’re a fair player, young master. I would not disparage it out of hand. It teaches much about…”

“Boredom? Obscure rules? Treachery and deception?”

“I was going to say, ‘warfare’.” Chrysander’s smile was that of a teacher speaking to an obstinate student. “Your aggressive playstyle would be suited for some opponents, but you must learn to anticipate beyond the next move.”

“I deal with what’s in front of me.”

“Such honesty seems a uniquely Northern trait.”

“I’ve noticed, Prince.” Victor sounded only slightly more bitter than usual. “Too many around the Iron Throne seem to like hiding daggers in their smiles.”

“It’s unfortunate that we can’t always see the threats that ally against us.” Prince Doran steepled his fingers as they approached the courtyard, where the children played as they always did. Chrysander smiled beatifically, and Victor blinked a few times.

“I come here whenever I need a reminder of what we’re fighting for.” Doran’s posture relaxed as he took in the sight. “Ensuring I never lose sight of what is most precious to me.”

“I understand.”

Doran turned to look up at Victor. “I’ve no doubt you do. Perhaps one day you’ll have children of your own, and understand more deeply.”

“As long as my sons are strong,” Victor replied. Chrysander leaned on his staff.

“I’ve no doubt they will be, young master.”

“We’ll watch them play for a time, if you’ll indulge me.” Prince Doran was now utterly at ease. Areo Hotah rested the pommel of his axe against the white marble floor. Despite the manner of the Prince’s guests, he remained watchful, as he always did. “Afterwards we shall take a midday meal, and then make arrangements to return to Sunspear where you can take ship to White Harbor. Martell is in your debt for the return of our blades and the justice done in the name of their owners. It is the least we can do to see you safely home.”

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