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The Sun in Splendor

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Prompt: Doran playing cyvasse with Trystane, Doran telling Trystane about the betrothal

“Dragons can fly, you know.”

Trystane looked up from his intense contemplation of the cyvasse squares, his hand poised in mid-air, clutching an onyx elephant piece.

“Putting all your elephants behind the mountains will not protect them from my dragons.”

Trystane considered this, quietly. And then he plopped down the elephant piece behind a mountain anyway. “I still think there is a way to win with this arrangement, if only I could find it,” he said doggedly. “If only elephants could fly,” Trystane continued, wistfully.

Doran smiled. “When you first started playing cyvasse, you wanted to make the horses fly. Horses should have wings, you said. It would be a glorious sight to behold, even more than dragons.”

Trystane looked surprised. “I did not think you would remember that, Father.”

Doran shifted in his seat. “Am I so old that I must have forgotten many things?” He teased his son.

Trystane blinked rapidly in succession, as if he was uncertain whether his father was indeed making a jape. How strange it must be, for this boy of three-and –ten to have as a father a grave, ailing man of two-and-fifty. Doran had been stronger and in better health when Arianne and Quentyn were children.

Not that Trystane was, strictly speaking, a child, at that. Three-and-ten was only three years away from being of age, from being a man. Old enough to be betrothed, certainly. More than old enough to be sent away to squire for some lord. Doran himself had been only nine when he was sent to Salt Shore to serve as Lord Gargalen’s squire; Quentyn had been even younger when he was sent to be fostered with the Yronwoods. And yet, with this child, his and Mellario’s youngest …

“You are not as old as that, Father,” Trystane said, but the attempted levity and cheerfulness in his voice was belied by the way his eyes kept glancing at his father’s pale and puffy face, at the inflamed joints in Doran’s hands.

With the pieces all arranged on the cyvasse table, Doran made his first move, deploying a horse on attack. Trystane was disconcerted; this was not the way his father usually began his play. Ever cautious, ever vigilant, Doran usually began by strengthening his defenses, deploying fortresses instead of horses.

“A bold move, Father,” Trystane said, still considering his own first move. “Are you certain it is not a reckless one?”

“You must not confuse boldness with recklessness, Trystane. Or mistake patience with forbearance, for that matter. There is a time to be bold, when events warrant it, when patient planning and waiting has made victory possible.”

Trystane lifted his eyes from the cyvasse table, staring at his father questioningly.  

“The late king’s daughter, Princess Myrcella, will be coming to Sunspear,” Doran said, his voice low.

“Is the princess to be fostered at Dorne? Or to serve as your cupbearer, Father?”

Doran shook his head. “She is to be betrothed.”

“To Quent?” It made sense to Trystane. Quentyn was his older brother after all, and he should be betrothed before Trystane.

“No, my son. To you.”

Startled, Trystane asked, “To me? But what about Quent?”

“Your brother has a harder road to walk. He must do his duty to Dorne in another way. Where he must go, I cannot send you because you are too young still. Do you understand?”

Trystane nodded, understanding that his father wanted to leave it at that, to say no more. Reckless words are as dangerous as reckless deeds, his father often said. You never know who might be listening.

“Princess Myrcella will be afraid and lonely, being so far away from home, from her family, for the first time. You must remember to always be kind and attentive to her, Trystane.”

“Yes, Father.” They continued the game of cyvasse without speaking, until a disquieting thought suddenly struck Trystane. “But … Father, will they not suspect anything, if it is me who is to be betrothed to Princess Myrcella? Why not your older son, they might wonder.”

“Ah, I have thought of that,” Doran said, as he deployed a dragon piece to devour one of Quentyn’s elephants. “The princess is only one-and-ten; it will be a few years until she is old enough for the wedding to take place. I wrote to her uncle that my oldest son Quentyn is eight-and-ten, and could not wait too long to marry and beget an heir. What is more, the princess herself will find it more amenable betrothed to someone closer to her own age, someone she can look on as companion and playmate while waiting for the time when they are old enough to wed.”

“You have thought of everything, Father,” Trystane marveled.

“As we must, before we make any move, in a game of cyvasse, or in life.”