The Shackles of Legitimacy

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firejay1

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#1
((A continuation of interactions between Kyne Sand and Taria Baratheon Greenie Greenie from the GoT alternate universe RP A Season for Snakes. Shizuochan Shizuochan is welcome to lurk and maybe interject with his character Gaheris Tyrell where appropriate.))

Bored and worried were not a combination of emotions Kyne was used to feeling; he didn't usually have to subject himself to that. It was two days after the melee. The Queen's Nameday Celebration. Kyne had a lot on his mind, from the moderately disastrous meeting with the Tyrell representative, the rigged joust results he had stumbled upon - a scheme that honestly had nothing to do with him - the civil war they were planning, and of course, his personal schemes to take care of Axton. The civil war and his problem with Axton required patience and a careful eye, the waiting it would take to know the perfect moment to strike, but it was all starting to wear on his nerves, and there was nothing to be done about the Tyrell. At least they had succeeded in securing the Queen's... relative blessing and a few other allies, but how much that mattered depended on who she chose as her successor, which had been long overdue, in his estimation. The old Martell was a shrew who'd lived much longer than he'd expected, and if she'd passed on her reign earlier, there wouldn't be quite so many problems now, would there?

But the worst thing of all was this blasted feast. Supposedly, at the end of all of this, the Queen was going to announce her heir, but the feast itself was taking forever. As a matter of fact, he hadn't expected to be allowed to attend at all. His father had broken socially-acceptably protocol already in bringing all but two of his bastards to the Celebration in general, but he had been almost certain that Axton would be the only one allowed to attend this special feast, and the rest of them would have to hear from their father who the Queen chose. Kyne had been more than thrilled not to have to go, even if it meant having to stay home and take care of his siblings. He most certainly hadn't expected his father to spear him with an appraising look as he and Axton prepared to leave, and tell him he wasn't suitably dressed. Dressed for what, he'd wanted to know. He'd almost fallen down when his father had evenly responded with, "The Nameday Feast, of course. You are attending." His half-brother hadn't looked any more pleased about it than he'd been, but one look at their father's face, and neither boy had dared to say a thing about it. Even Axton wasn't stupid enough to complain when that glint of steel entered the Lord of House Manwoody's eye, despite the mild smile he was wearing.

How long had it been since this stupid feast had started? He grimaced as he realized that they'd arrived only a short time ago. There were still hours to go before enough people were inebriated enough for the Queen to make her announcement. He'd retreated to a corner of the room; not that anyone had been dying to talk to him, but the stares and whispers of those who had an idea of who he was had been getting tiresome. Staring at the crowds, he searched for someone, anyone, who might provide a modicum of interesting conversation. It took a while, but he eventually spotted Taria. It was tempting to go over and talk to her, but in a setting such as this, that would surely cause several tongues to start wagging, and he truly didn't want to get people wondering what a Baratheon was doing talking to a Manwoody bastard. Their families' alliance for the upcoming was was a secret after all. Not even their allies knew the extent of the other alliances they had made, in case some weren't... quite so committed to their cause.

There was something wrong, though. Standing a fair sight taller than most everyone in the room, Kyne had no trouble spotting his target, but she was still a bit too far away for him to tell specifics. What he could tell was that she was swaying slightly on her feet, surrounded by a gaggle of other women who looked a bit like hawks descending on a chick. He wasn't sure what to make of that, but slowly, he began drifting away from his corner, quick deft steps and his somewhat domineering presence making it easy for him to forge a subtle path to the Baratheon heir. He still remembered what had happened the last time he'd seen her out of sorts, and him bumping into her would make less talk than her sobbing and spilling her secrets to a bunch of conniving upper-class women. He made a show of tripping right as he reached the group, very intentionally spilling the contents of her cup all over herself. "Oh exs-scuse me." He said politely, adding a very slight slur to his existing drawl. "My dear lady." He said, a touch too loudly. "Oh no, your lovely dress," he clumsily patted her shoulder, pretending not to notice the tittering of the women around them, as he gestured towards the hall where she could fix her soiled clothing, "let me escort you to some place a little less crowded. You wouldn't want your lady friends to see your dress all ugly, now." He grinned broadly at the company present, as if thinking very highly of some joke no one but him thought funny, the way a man a little too far in his cups might. The women stared down their noses at him disapprovingly, but their attentions had been successfully diverted from Taria herself.
 

Greenie

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#2
It had been a long and tiresome day for the Baratheon heir. If there was any place she didn't want to be at this moment, it would be right where she was standing. Hair made up and stuck in a dress, she felt less like herself than she ever had, surrounded by women who had been playing this game for years while she had been busy in her own game of arms and action. This was like dressing up a monkey and expecting it to know how to act. She was fine with meeting and greeting people at the tourney, even if that was a little strenuous at times, but this was painful. She could wholly understand why her uncle preferred sending someone to represent him rather than coming himself. Who had time for all this frivolity?​

Drink was the only way to dull the words of the women chittering around her. So many questions and comments she didn't want to answer; a simple smile did nothing to deter them. She couldn't even remember if this was her second of third drink. Whatever the count was, it was too many- Taria had never been one who could her drink well.​

The splash of her drink on herself, the cold wetness soaking through her clothes and dripping down her skin broke her out of her stupor, if only temporarily. It was only when she was finally away from the gaggle of ladies and in the hallway that she recognized the voice.​

"Oh, Kyne, that is you..." She squinted, looking up at the man. Yes, that was him, the height, sandy hair and overall expression would be hard for anyone to forget. Uncharacteristically she leaned against the tall Dornish man. What a relief to have even one friend around all these snakes. "Thank good-goodness. I felt like, like I was going to be eaten alive." Sniffling, she moved away, stumbling a little as she wiped at her eyes. "This place is... what's the word... ghastly?"
 

firejay1

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Fantasy, Slice-of-Life, Modern.
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#3
It took very little effort for Kyne to steer Taria away from the other women. She looked a little dazed, and the rest of them were too busy being scandalized by his disgraceful conduct - as expected of a bastard - to do much more than gossip and stare disapprovingly. The fact that she didn't shove him off, as he tucked her hand in the crook of his elbow and chattered loudly about needing a rest and being terribly sorry and maybe finding her a coat, was far more concerning than anything else. The Baratheon was not one to allow herself to be manhandled. As they reached the hallway, still well in sight of the party, but allowing them a small measure of privacy, Kyne's volume dropped down to his usual tone, rumbling quietly with its characteristic hint of sardonic amusement. "And here I thought you had learned your lesson after our last encounter." He said with a smirk, all traces of affected bluster and clumsiness gone.

And that was when she finally looked up at him, still swaying lightly and squinting as if she couldn't see quite clearly. "Oh, Kyne," she started, and his eyebrows shot upwards. She called him by his first name plenty of times. After all, she did outrank him, and there wasn't really much else to call him, but the way she said it, so infused with somewhat blurry relief, surprised him quite a bit. Though, not nearly as much as it surprised him when she sagged against him, sniffling like one of his youngest brothers after having gotten hurt. Still, this was better than what had happened last time, and was far less unexpected, though that wasn't saying much. "I'd say ghastly is an accurate description." He reached out a hand to steady her as she stumbled, a hint of amusement still playing about his tone and lips.

He was about to point out that she'd now been sufficiently rescued, and should probably rest somewhere so as not to embarrass herself, as being seen with him was probably not doing her any good, when a throat cleared behind him. He turned sharply, doing his best to instinctively shield Taria from view. "Who is that, Kyne?" Came a smooth voice. Kyne had heard his eldest brother called handsome once or twice, and he certainly didn't sound or look like the odious, fat toad that would have suited his personality best, but even a lady would have been able to see the glitter of cold triumph in Axton's hooded gaze.

Kyne resisted the urge to hit him. It wasn't an urge he usually resisted, and Axton gave the tiniest of flinches when Kyne tensed slightly, but he had chosen the right moment to bother Kyne and he knew it. At the Queen's Nameday Feast, with a lady standing behind him, even one teensy weensy little solid punch to the jaw would cause a stir, and as much as he knew Taria found him a little trying, he had no desire to publicly humiliate her and leave her the result of a lot of unkind tongue-wagging just because his brother was being daft again. "'That'" he said very slowly, his drawl lengthening in scornful unconcern, unaware that his softly threatening tone was rather similar to the one his father adopted, "is none of your concern, Axton. Some woman whose dress I accidentally ruined." He let himself take the blame for the simple accident, trying not to draw attention to the fact that she was in some distress, nor imply that he had any affection for her, even as a friend.

He tried to warn his brother off with an open stare. Axton didn't truly know the details of the civil war planned. Despite being the eldest son, Barlay had entrusted Dallin and Kyne with most of the information and responsibilities, a fact which clearly still rankled on the man's nerves. Kyne had thought this an excellent idea, as his estimation of Axton's loyalty and intelligence were about as flattering as his estimation of his brother's personality, but it was a disadvantage in this case, as Axton currently had no idea about the Baratheons and the role they had hoped the House would play in the war. On top of which, the eldest son liked few things better than harassing vulnerable women, and one of those few things was upsetting Kyne. What a nightmare.
 

Greenie

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#4
Taria would have replied to Kyne but was caught off guard (or rather more off guard than she currently was) when she heard Axton's voice. In the back of her head she recognized him, and even in her inebriated state she didn't wish to exchange pleasantries with him. He was known for being a little to handsy, and with the exception of very few, those who tried to get a little too close with the Baratheon heir usually ended up injured.​
If she could reach her weapon anyway... which was in her room, nice and secured. She could hardly carry her sword around if she was in a dress. Emotions high due to drunkenness as well as embarrassment at being stupid and succumbing to norms -she could very well have worn a fancier version of her usual clothes- Taria couldn't stop herself from shedding a few real tears. She shuffled further behind Kyne, attempting not to trip over the skirt of her gown, which was quite a feat.​
Her movements were caught by Axton, and despite his brother being there and clearly not wanting to escalate the situation, the older brother decided to take his chances. He took a couple of steps forward, the flinch gone and replaced with a smirk. "No need to hide-"​
He was interrupted by a new pair of footsteps that came to a stop close by. Peeking, Taria could make out the slight figure of Haylana Forrester. Her eyebrow was raised as she looked over the scene; as her gaze fell on Axton, a smirk came to her lips.​
"Fancy meeting you here, Axton of House Manwoody." Her eyes moved over him before she continued. "Hope your back isn't suffering too much from the melee."​
 

firejay1

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Fine doing both! Sometimes I end up aggressive, if no one else is contributing to plot, or if there's one person I feel like is taking over, but if everyone's contributing equally to the pool of ideas, I just let them go ahead and do it.
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Fantasy, Slice-of-Life, Modern.
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#5
Despite the danger Axton still posed, Kyne's face immediately split into a grin so full of wicked excitement that it was impossible to doubt its sincerity. Axton did not notice, as his face was full of a dark fury, eyes locked on the Forrester. He seemed to be searching for something to say, and utterly failing, so Kyne spoke instead. He didn't move from Taria to greet the other woman as would have been proper, but she was close enough that he could call out to her without raising his voice too much. "Lady Haylana Forrester, allow me to congratulate you on your fine performance in the melee. I am Kyne Sand of House Manwoody, and honored to make the acquaintance of anyone who sees fit to humiliate my brother in public." He bowed to top it off. There was not the smallest hint of sarcasm in his tone, and Axton's face went from a faint ruddy hue to a livid scarlet. It took all of Kyne's willpower not to fall down laughing, and his paltry self-control probably wouldn't have succeeded if he wasn't still aware of a barely recovering Taria peering out from behind him.

Axton tried to say something. Kyne almost wished he would, because as amusing as the vague spluttering was, it would have been even funnier to watch the older man try to match his tiny portion of wit against the clearly much more gifted girl in front of him. Forgetting Taria in his outrage, the Manwoody heir wordlessly clenched his fist and stormed off. Kyne breathed a sigh of relief as he watched his brother disappear into the crowd, then gave the Forrester a warm smile with a hint of gratitude. "Your intervention was most welcome, Lady Haylana." He said somewhat softly, so as not to draw too much attention. "And I am truly pleased to make your acquaintance." He added.
 

Greenie

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#6
"The pleasure is all mine," the Forrester replied, her smirk now a proper smile as she looked away from the retreating Axton to Kyne instead. It was clear from the look on her face that she was delighting in this unexpected meeting as well. "I'd also like to thank you for your kind words earlier, although I must admit defeating your brother in combat was easier than stealing a sweet roll from a child."​

Now that she was somewhat safe, Taria decided to venture away from the protection of the Dornish man's shadow and make some show at being respectable. It would have been an unnoticeable feat too, but unfortunately for her the hem of her dress got caught under her shoe. A loud ripping sound could be heard as she tripped and fell to the floor in a rather ungraceful manner. Face rather red from this misadventure, she remained rather still, unsure if moving right now would be the best course of action.​

"Looks like our lady could use some help," Haylana commented, sounding a little amused though she started forward in order to help. Unfortunately just then came the sound of someone calling out her name. Sighing, she stepped back. "That must be my brother, probably wishing for me to meet some other bothersome noble. Alas, I must take my leave. Lady Baratheon, Master Kyne. Do remember the Forresters if you are in need of wood as strong as iron."​

A small bow later, she turned and left the hallway, leaving the two alone for the time being.​
 

firejay1

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Fine doing both! Sometimes I end up aggressive, if no one else is contributing to plot, or if there's one person I feel like is taking over, but if everyone's contributing equally to the pool of ideas, I just let them go ahead and do it.
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Fantasy, Slice-of-Life, Modern.
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#7
Master Kyne, huh? Kyne decided he liked Lady Haylana, and not just because she'd whipped Axton's hide in the melee. She was a kind and interesting woman who he would like to get to know better. At present, however.... With a small sigh, Kyne pulled Taria off the ground, hooking his arms under hers and pulling her upright with practiced ease. For all his appearance as an independent spirit, he seemed to spend a lot of his time taking care of people. And here he'd thought if he was going to endure this party, he'd at least be free of watching over his brothers all evening. His back hurt slightly, as he was bent over at an awkward angle. If he'd stood up straight, her feet would have been several inches off the ground.

That was when he looked down at her, somewhat dangling from his arms, face flushed, whether from the drink or the embarrassment of her fall. His eyes widened again, because the loud ripping noise had proved to be the left half of her skirt hanging half-torn from the bodice. The bodice itself had appeared to put up a little bit of a fight, because her sleeve had slipped off of one shoulder, the front of the dress pulled down far lower than proper. This was bad. He couldn't just leave her alone to fend for herself now. She wouldn't even be able to make it to the entrance without causing a stir, and that was assuming she suddenly sobered and didn't make a fool of herself by blubbering or tripping again or something else to make the situation worse. If they stayed in view of the party, people were going to start asking questions.

Swearing under his breath, Kyne hoisted her up off the floor and swept deeper into the hallway, ducking slightly to the side into the first opening he found, which was the start of a stony staircase. Carefully keeping his back to the hallways to keep his bulk the main thing any passers-by might see, he began fussing about her like a doll, pulling her sleeve back up onto her shoulder to hide her undergarments, and pulled her skirt back up to her hip, getting her clumsy fingers to grip onto the torn skirt herself. If his sisters had been here, they would have known exactly what to do, how to fix this, but he had no clue how he was going to fix a problem to do with ladies' garments. He didn't have needle and thread with him, and didn't even have his coat with him to cover her with.

He frowned down at her and coughed awkwardly, "You should maybe sta-" He never got the chance to finish that awkward sentence, because he heard someone behind him clear their throat. He whirled around, in his haste forgetting to keep Taria squarely out of view. The maid who had been passing him with extra candles dropped her entire basket on the floor and gasped, gaping at the two of them openly. He swore, and that seemed to jolt her out of her stupor, dipping into a hasty bow and squeaking something unintelligible before outright hiking up her skirts and running off. He didn't even have time to reach out a hand to stop her, and she left behind a basket of candles spilled onto the floor.
 

Greenie

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#8
It was quite obvious how useless Taria was at this moment. In the back of her mind a little voice was trying to tell her to get a hold of herself, but her mind was too fuzzy to hold onto a thread of sense, let alone attempt to make herself seem dignified. She had only had so much drink before (if three glasses could be counted as 'so much') when her betrothed had passed away and she had found herself in a tavern.​
This was nothing like that. At least that much she knew, and so there was no fuss from her side when Kyne maneuvered her around. She would have to thank him when she was back in her sense, but right now she didn't think the words would rightly make it out of her mouth. In fact, the most she could do was giggle weakly as she felt almost childlike, being fussed over like this.​
"You're... you're too kind..." she mumbled. "A good-" she put a hand to her mouth, an unseemly hiccup nearly escaping "-a good man. Yesh." She nodded vigorously for a second; the dizziness that attacked her forced her to stop.​
This was all as the maid let out a rather loud gasp, followed by Kyne swearing. This caused her head to jerk, her mouth forming into an 'o' when she realized someone had seen her. In her state. Drunk Taria knew very well that this was no good.​
"Oh no, oh no, oh no..." Her low moan of despair was followed by "M-Mother have mercy." She didn't know if praying to an aspect of the Seven would do her any good, not know that she had been seen in such a state of disarray. But not just her! "Kyne- Kyne, just- just leave me be. Please." The last thing she wanted was for him to fall into trouble due to her! Oh, if her uncle and aunt ever heard of this... No, that couldn't happen. The panic setting in was beginning to replace her previous glaze-eyed look.​
 

firejay1

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Fine doing both! Sometimes I end up aggressive, if no one else is contributing to plot, or if there's one person I feel like is taking over, but if everyone's contributing equally to the pool of ideas, I just let them go ahead and do it.
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Fantasy, Slice-of-Life, Modern.
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Horror, Psychedelic, Gory (gore I can handle as long as it's not gore for gore's sake).
#9
Kyne stared at her like she'd just grown a pair of horns. He was alarmed, certainly, and he had no idea what he was supposed to do at this point to prevent Taria's reputation from being well and truly ruined. The poor Baratheons. He had no idea how this was going to end up settled, but he got the feeling the result would be summed up in "not good" for everyone involved. At the same time, what was this daft girl saying? Leave her be? Looking like he'd just raped her and heavily inebriated all by herself with no one to fend for her? Was she altogether mad?

He swore again, as if that would do any good, and then put his hands hard on her shoulders to steady her and get her to look straight at him. In a low voice, he commanded, "Stop talking, and stop crying. I'm going to go get you a coat." He turned on his heels and strode down the hallway, stepping nimbly over the fallen candles. As his figure loomed towards the main room, he could see women catch sight of him and suddenly start whispering to each other, a few of them smirking rather obviously. He stifled the urge to curl his lip in open disgust at them, and instead grabbed a man close to the hallway, relieving him of his jacket somewhat forcefully. Thankfully, the man appeared to have the alcohol tolerance that Taria did, and his protest was weak and glazed.

Going back to Taria and wrapping the cloak around her shoulders, he looked her in the eyes again, kneeling in front of her. "We are going to get you home, alright? Now that someone's seen you anyways, the best you can do is keep your head high and walk out. Do you understand?" Oh, his father was going to kill him. Definitely going to kill him.
 

Greenie

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#10
It took a moment before Taria finally conceded to Kyne's words. He wasn't he drunk one, she was. If he was insisting on helping her out, that had to mean there was a reason. She rubbed at her wet face with the back of both hands before letting out a large sniffle as Kyne left. Maybe she was just overreacting and her aunt and uncle wouldn't hear of anything. And even if they did... they must have had their own fun shenanigans when younger, right?​
She had no time to further process those thoughts as Kyne came back. She looked up, blinking back unwanted tears. This is why I don't drink! Alcohol made her stupidly clumsy and weepy, and even a kind gesture had her sniffling up a storm. Taking a couple of deep breaths to control herself, she nodded.​
"Yes- yes I will." Her bottom lip trembled but she bit down on it. "I'm... I'm sorry about..." Her words trailed to a stop and she took another deep breath. "I'm ready. I'm- I'm staying in the Red Keep so the walk isn't far." Indeed, the guest rooms were a mere ten minutes walk past the great hall, through an elaborate garden than lead further into the guests quarters. As the Baratheons were an honoured noble family, it was no surprise than the heir would be given a room with all amenities and servants.​
 

firejay1

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Fine doing both! Sometimes I end up aggressive, if no one else is contributing to plot, or if there's one person I feel like is taking over, but if everyone's contributing equally to the pool of ideas, I just let them go ahead and do it.
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Fantasy, Slice-of-Life, Modern.
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Horror, Psychedelic, Gory (gore I can handle as long as it's not gore for gore's sake).
#11
It was somewhat to Kyne's relief that Taria didn't fight him on the issue. For a second, he thought her mind was fuzzied enough that she was going to kick up a stink, but she just scrubbed her face grossly and took a shaky breath. Pretty much the only piece of good news this whole night was the fact that the Baratheons were staying in the Red Keep. They were of a much higher status than the Manwoodys, but he'd instinctively thought they were going to have to leave through the front and make it through the streets to get to an inn like the one his family was staying at.

"Yes, yes." He brushed off her apology without really thinking about it. He took her hands gently in his, making sure one secured the rip in her dress and the other held the edges of the coat together in front of her. "Don't let go of those." He demanded. If they were going to make this hellish walk through the great hall, she was going to have to look as if she was holding herself together. He picked her up as easily as if she were a doll and set her onto her feet.

Placing a hand on the small of her back to help steady her, Kyne repeated, "Don't let go, and focus on walking in the right direction. Don't think about anything else. Don't look around, or blubber, or think about anything except for walking and holding onto your clothes, you got it?" His low voice was stern and tight, causing his drawl to lessen slightly. He began guiding her back to the hall, keeping his hand where it was, but keeping a certain amount of distance.

He utterly ignored the people around them, but then he was good at that. Not only had he been doing it for most of his life, being a good head taller than most people in the room meant few people entered his line of sight when he was looking at comfortable eye-level. Taria, on the other hand.... who knew how she was handling it.
 

Greenie

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#12
The way to Taria's room wasn't too far away, relatively speaking. One the great hall was passed through to the exit, they had only to make their way through a garden that lead straight to where the guest apartments were situated. Though it was dark, sconces with torches lit the pathway as well as the halls. The Baratheon heir had been given a lush apartment wanting for nothing, and luckily for both her and Kyne, it was the first one they encountered.

The cool night breeze had been enough to sober Taria. Her crying and sniffling had ceased and she looked quite like her usual self, for the most part. The usual determine in her eyes however was lost, replaced with resignation and shame.

"I can go by myself from here," she told the man, her voice quiet yet audible. "Thank you for your assistance, Kyne." She turned to the doors and pushed them open, though she didn't walk through them, turning to face him instead. "The Seven know you helped me when I was indisposed. I can only hope others see it that way." For a moment her neutral expression weakened, showing worry. However, she turned away and headed within the room before he could say anything more, closing the doors behind her.

At last she was alone. Her mask broke and she pressed her hands against her face. This was all her fault, and whatever the consequences, she was sure it meant Kyne would no longer want anything to do with her.

What a shame, losing your only friend because you can't handle your drink.
 

firejay1

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#13
Kyne began to relax as they moved away from the crowds and Taria slowly seemed to sober up. By the time they reached her room, she seemed almost fully recovered, and he grinned slightly at her return to her stiff manner, though it worried him slightly that she seemed so depressed about what had happened. He supposed she would be. Ah the things legitimate children had to worry about. He was sure there would be consequences on his part, as well, possibly more than hers, but his father would never let him executed or anything, and it wasn't as though there was much worse they could do to him than kick him out. Hell, some of his siblings would probably go with him if they did. The younger ones were always complaining about how he got to go on adventures and they didn't. He bowed a polite goodbye to Taria and left. As he passed through the main hall, he caught sight of his father. He ignored the rest of them, but his father's soft eyes locked on his in a terrifying but unreadable expression. His own greyish eyes tore away and he snorted, brazenly striding away from the party, and sure that whatever would happen couldn't be all that bad.

Sure.

That night, a brawl broke out among the nobles in the festivities. Before it could be squashed, someone was trampled to death, and Queen Roslyn Martell declared that she would be postponing her announcement for the decision of heir for another 6 months, as a result. Many speculated that this was just an excuse to delay because she had not chosen an heir at all, and in the excitement that followed, the temporary stir caused by the heir of House Baratheon and a Manwoody bastard faded in to the backdrop of most's minds. Most, but not all.

A few days later, a certain letter from Lady Dondarrion made its way to the seat of Storm's End, addressed to none other than the Lady Merianne Baratheon. Its contents... best describe themselves.

My dearest Lady Baratheon,

I hope this letter finds you well. Your absence, as well as that of Lord Baratheon, has been keenly felt during the Queen's Naming Day Celebration. Your niece, however, does you credit as your representative. Though she may not be your child by blood, she comports herself with much of the austere ceremony you and your husband are respected for, and with all the grace one would expect of the heir of House Baratheon, except of late. Perhaps you might have been better served to put your faith in a child of your own, for I come to you with news of your niece's conduct that may alarm you.

It pains me to be the bearer of bad news in such a time of unease, when even Lord Baratheon cannot attend the festivities, but it seems the girl's teaching has been lacking that element of good sense that many young ladies are in want of, nowadays. Rumor has it that your niece became quite taken with a certain son of Lord Manwoody of Kingsgrave, and allowed herself to be swept from the ball by her unexpected suitor to a deserted hallway. I have it on very good authority that a servant stumbled upon the two of them in a passionate embrace on the stairs, with your niece's dishabille all but on display for their rather shocked spectator.

One must hope that her virtue has not been compromised, but the reputation of the partner in question makes a happy outcome very unlikely, and news of the affair is already spreading through most of King's Landing. I wrote to you as soon as possible to warn you of the many questions and rumors that shall likely be coming your way, and to offer my condolences for the misstep of Lord Baratheon's only heir.

Your humble servant,

Lady Dondarrion


~~

When Kyne's father received the unsurprising, strongly-worded missive from Lady Baratheon, later that same day, Kyne was sitting in the large outer room they shared, drinking in comfortable silence with Fane napping on his lap. Nell and Twell had taken the others out, but Fane had always been one of the more "delicate" ones, and they had opted to let him stay home and sleep. Barlay came to join him, pouring himself his own glass of mead. For a long moment, there was silence, as Kyne saw no reason to start a conversation. Barlay, however, had come to talk to his son for a reason. Only, he had not expected this conversation to happen for this reason.

Taking a long sip of his mead, he finally spoke. "Kyne, did you not wonder why I asked you to attend the Queen's Nameday Feast with Axton and I?"

Kyne shrugged, "Sure." Of course he had wondered how his father had dared to do something so rude, but the crafty old man didn't always have logical reasons for his insane actions, so he hadn't dwelt on it for very long. He wished the old man would leave him to drink in peace.

Barlay coughed twice, then dropped his little piece of news as casually as possible. "That is because I petitioned the Queen some months ago to allow me to adopt you as a legitimate son, and in our last meeting, she agreed."

Casual, did not describe Kyne's reaction to this "little piece of news." The younger man attempted to gasp with mead in his mouth, choked on it, and promptly spat it all over the floor, just barely missing the half-brother on his lap. He went right on coughing into his sleeve, shaking so hard that Fane began to stir, and he had to move him off his lap. The minute he finished attempting to throw up his own lungs, he staggered to his feet, almost knocking over the table next to him. Barlay watched this display in utter calm, waiting for it to subside. It turned out Kyne had got up to grab something stronger, because he came back with an entire bottle of rum, which he made no delay in cracking open and taking a long swig of.

Barlay continued as soon as Kyne stopped looking as if he was about to die. "You are not, however, in line to become heir. On the chance that Axton and Dallin fall whether in this upcoming battle or to some other dire fate, the seat of Kingsgrave will still pass to your brother Parren." This did not seem to calm Kyne down, as he had thought it might. The other man was still pacing about the room, unhearing. "But I had hoped to lend you a little more respect and power, as you are the eldest of my bastards, and the most likely to take care of them when I am gone."

The very thought of Barlay suddenly dropping dead seemed to put Kyne even more on edge, which was a surprise since the boy had never even pretended to like him. Maybe it had more to do with Axton potentially becoming the Lord of House Manwoody and having the rest of them at his mercy. "I had thought also that you might provide a source of leadership and counsel that a future Lord of House Manwoody might need, that a bastard might not fully be allowed to provide, even in Dorne. But your adoption has shed a slightly different light on... recent events."

Kyne finally stopped his pacing then, and looked at him, taking another loud swallow of rum. "What do you mean by recent events?" He asked, slightly hoarse still from having coughed so hard.

Barlay didn't look him in the eyes, tone as light and mild as ever. "Your little... interaction with the future Lady Baratheon has evolved in the minds of others into a tryst. Naturally, this has upset the Baratheons no small amount, as Lady Taria is their only potential heir, and must produce her own, very legitimate one in turn. A bastard having any intimate relationship with her could bring her to ruin. Fortunately, as you were formally adopted by me 6 days ago, you are no longer considered a bastard, and your attentions can be construed as nothing more than a stage of courtship-" Kyne dropped the bottle of rum on the floor, and it shattered loudly, spilling rum all over the floor, "-provided the courtship results in formal marriage arrangements. We cannot afford to offend the Baratheons at this time, as they are currently our primary allies."

"You're kidding." Kyne said, voice flat. He could already hear Sara and Cara's squealing and laughter in his mind once they found out everything that had come out of his father's mouth.

Barlay looked at Kyne, and his expression spoke even louder than his words, "This is no joke. We are arranging for you to marry Lady Taria Baratheon as a legitimate son of House Manwoody. You'd best get used to the idea."
 

Greenie

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#14
Storm's End may have seemed inhospitable to most others. Even its name was intimidating and had outsiders wondering if it was worth taking a ride to make acquaintanceship of those who ruled over it. It only made sense that the Lord and Lady of the Stormlands be as strict and domineering as the land itself. Yet to Taria it was home, and the journey back from King's Landing had been met with much relief and happiness by the Baratheon heir. She had missed the missed the grey rocky mountains, the dour castle, the tower that overlooked the sea, the violent wind that whipped her hair when she stood out to face the Summer Sea.​
However, any happiness that she may have felt when she arrived had been whisked away mere days later when Taria found herself summoned by her aunt, Lady Merianne. Such summons were not very commonplace for Taria, who was normally called upon by her uncle instead. Concerned as she was by this sudden meeting, the Baratheon heir was already feeling uneasy when she came upon her aunt, and the expression on the woman's face didn't do much to dissuade any worries she had. Lady Merianne waved at a free chair that was situated before the desk where she herself sat.​
"Aunt Merianne," Taria started once she had seated herself, "is all well?"
Her aunt's face remained rather stonelike, even as she let out a long and slow breath. "Taria, as heir of this house, you have responsibilities."​
The words had only to leave her house and the younger Baratheon knew what was going to come next. An arranged marriage of course. With Harlan passed and the other Dondarrion sons already wed, it only made sense that her uncle and aunt would find another suitable match for her.​
"When I received this letter from Lady Dondarrion about your behaviour at King's Landing, I feared the worse." For a moment Taria had no idea what was being talked about, but then her aunt continued. "Dalliances of any kind should be avoided by the heir of such a great house, yet you forgot yourself completely."​
"Aunt Merianne, that is not what-"
"Silence." The severity of Lady Merianne's tone stole whatever words Taria may have uttered. "You were seen with the bastard son of Lord Manwoody. Not even a legitimate son, but a bastard. It is as if you have absolutely no regard for our name and honour, besmirching both. And of all people to receive such dark news from... Lady Dondarrion. They already have qualms with our house, blaming us for their son, you late bethrothed's death. Can you imagine what must have been going through her mind? To see the woman her son was to marry with a bastard?"​
"Aunt Merianne," Taria tried again. "I promise you, nothing at all happened. Kyne was merely being a gentleman and helping me while I was indisposed."
"That is not how this missive reads," her aunt snapped back, "nor does it matter any longer." She took another deep breath before continuing. "The Seven had looked up us with favour, it would seem. Lord Barlay's son, the very one you were seen with, was legitimized by the Queen herself. After corresponding with Lord Manwoody, it has been decided that you are to wed Kyne of Kingsgrave."​
Taria's eyes shot up to look at her aunt, hoping for any hint of... anything, but as soon as their eyes met, she knew there was nothing that could be done.​
She would be wed to Kyne Sand- no, Kyne Manwoody, a man who valued his freedom, and it was all because she was a teetotaler who turned into a sobbing mess after just a few drinks.​
Oh Kyne... I truly am sorry. I can only hope you won't hate me for this.
 

firejay1

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#15
Barlay Manwoody wasn't known for a flamboyant personality, but apparently he didn't go small when it came to things like this. He hadn't come himself, as they'd been away from Kingsgrave for too long already for the Queen's little celebration, but he'd made sure to send along Dornish wines and bolts of brightly colored silk, a small company of guards (they couldn't afford to send too much of their military in a time like this), and three of his best horses, each one bearing one of his children. This was, after all, the very first courtship call they'd be making. The date for the marriage hadn't been completely set yet, but in the meantime, to put unpleasant rumors to rest, the Manwoodys were making a nice show of the engagement.

Kyne hated it. While bastards were treated almost like legitimate sons most of the time in Dorne, being a bastard had meant people didn't really care all that much where he went and what he did. It helped that Dornishmen didn't really consider it scandalous to sleep around and get into fights, but it also meant he didn't have to go anywhere with an escort, or be expected to dress or act a certain way. As a group they had made downright maddening progress. He was almost grateful when they arrived at Storm's End. Almost. He had been to the seat of House Baratheon before, but he'd done so as quietly as possible, and always on serious business, nothing like this pointless social call/pre-marital posturing for the gossip-mongerers.

Unsurprisingly, they were received by the Baratheons as soon as they arrived, but Kyne wasn't the one to accept their "warm" welcome. Standing in their reception hall with their escort and their gifts behind him, Kyne opened his mouth to issue a greeting, and instead two young women darted in front of him, standing up front and center. "Sara, Cara, don't-" Kyne started, but it was too late.

"My Lord and Lady Baratheon." Sara started, her voice clear and strong and tinged with mischief. They had both dressed to impress and were swathed in colorful robes that somehow managed to bring the smell of desert with them, and yet still showed off far more skin than was practical in desert heat. Their hair had been braided with gold, and the two girls made a pretty picture, as they had somehow managed to inherit whatever subtle sensuality made their father such a success with the ladies, just a bit spiced up. Kyne had never met their mother, Chessie Brynn, and the very idea of doing so made his blood run cold with fear. "My name is Sara Sand, and this is my sister Cara. We are the only daughters of Lord Manwoody."

It was something of a debate whether or not the girls were identical, but they flashed each other unmistakably identical grins and curtsied at their hosts in perfect sync with each other. "It is our pleasure to make your acquaintance." They said in unison.

Kyne put one rough hand against his face, pressing his thumb and middle finger into his temples. "Our father meant no disrespect by sending us." Sara continued, sweetly, blinking her soft brown eyes at them innocently. "And in fact, he opposed sending us, but we importuned him desperately." This wasn't an inaccurate statement, per se, but Kyne still snorted. They hadn't so much 'importuned' as blackmailed their father into sending them. They had threatened to run away and 'cause trouble' if they weren't allowed to go. No one wanted to know what their idea of 'causing trouble' was, and most were terrified to find out, Kyne included. "We could not miss the chance to pay our respects to our future sister-"

"Our first sister." Cara interjected, voice just as frighteningly sweet.

"Yes, the first of our beloved brothers' brides," Sara went on, blithely, although their brother Dallin had wed three years prior (suffice to say, it was no secret he wasn't considered a 'beloved brother'), "who we are certain will bless us with many beautiful nieces and nephews."

"If our father's blood has anything to do with it." The other added quietly, but still loud enough for everyone in the room to hear clearly. Sara laughed gaily, Cara just cast Kyne a smirk. That was it. As soon as he returned home from this trip, he was strangling his father for allowing these two troublemakers along.

Kyne had some experience with the Baratheons, and they already knew that he was a straightforward sort of person, though he was usually a bit smoother, since he didn't have his sisters acting inappropriately in front of two such sticklers for propriety. He cleared his throat, grateful that he was still far too tall for his sisters to block him out even when conspiring together. "I truly am sorry for... my sisters." He said, managing to maintain the comfortably arrogant tone he was used to using, despite the awful situation. "I hope you will accept our gifts with good will. When may I see Taria?" Sara had to stifle a titter, no doubt making the situation worse, and Kyne realized to his frustration that he had forgotten to call her "Lady Taria," like he usually did around polite company. He'd come to think of her as just Taria after the incident at the pub. This was going worse than he had expected, and he hadn't expected it to go well in the first place.