It came as quite the surprise, when I checked my account here, that I saw that I had actually forgotten to upload the brief second chapter to this short story. I had it up on that other site for quite some time, so I will now rectify this mistake and make the chapter available here as well.
Please keep in mind, that this What-If-Scenario for 'A Lion's Duty' was meant to show a wholly different Rhaenys. A much colder and more bloodthirsty girl, who has learned to fight for her life. An unforgiving soul, forged by the world she grew up in. This isn't the loved and protected Rhaenys from my other story, but former fugitive, who has become a feared and respected mercenary, with only Jaime around to keep the Targaryen madness at bay.
Just keep those differences in mind, if you want to hate her for what she has become...
Slowly he paced in front of the fire pit. Like a caged animal, he was prowling around, ever impatient and moody. Ever so often his eyes found his oldest daughter, who had been placed on a cot in the corner of the room. She was sleeping. Put to sleep to better deal with the pain, after a healer had taken care of the arrow wounds she had suffered.
But only Obara was with him. He had no idea where they had brought Nymeria after the mercenaries had overpowered them. They had been dragged off, bound and blindfolded. He had only endured this so he would get another chance to speak to his niece, even though his pride as a warrior had suffered greatly under this kind of treatment. The fact that his second daughter was now missing mad things only worse...
Where had he gone wrong? Oberyn Martell was many things, a fool was not one of those things, or so he told himself again and again. But the outcome of this day had brought more questions than answers. Instead of the joyful relief of just retribution, he was now a prisoner himself. But it wasn't the failure to kill Jaime Lannister that kept him awake now, but rather the revelation of this day.
Rhaenys was still alive. His little niece, Elia's beloved daughter. She had been alive for all those years. Now she was a grown woman, a mercenary and above all a skilled fighter. From what little he had seen he couldn't deny his desire to fight her in earnest. A real test of skill, to see if she is indeed able to defend herself.
But all of that would have to wait. First, he would need answers. The question of how Rhaenys had survived burned on his mind. And he still owed that Lannister a few broken bones for keeping Rhaenys a secret from him for more than a decade.
His pacing ended suddenly when the door of the room he was in was opened and a man entered. A fair-haired lad, likely not even half his age. He didn't know him, but he recognized the family sigil on the armor of the man. House Celtigar. Whoever the boy was, he was from Westeros and possibly a Targaryen loyalist.
"The princess demands your presence," the boy said, "Come. And don't try anything."
"The princess has her cravings it seems," Oberyn muttered.
He followed the boy without quarrel, as he was lead outside and into a large courtyard. He already saw Rhaenys the moment they had left the building. She was at the other end, a bow in hand that was almost as tall as she. A practice target had been placed a good one hundred paces away from her.
The Dornish prince chuckled darkly, as he saw that she had placed his helmet on the head of her target. Such a vengeful little girl, nothing like her gentle mother. Had it not been for her looks, he would have been hard-pressed to believe that this little warrior was really his niece. She had more in common with his own daughters. But there was no denying it, when he looked at her, he saw Elia's vengeance. All of Elia's beauty, but none of her nature.
He studied her more closely now, as he approached her. She was taller than Elia, nearly as tall as he remembered her father. And while Elia had been flat and willowy, Rhaenys was voluptuous and had the body of a trained warrior. He could see it more clearly now. She had discarded her armor from before and only wore a simple white tunic and breeches. Improper for a princess, but practical for a training warrior. A leather chest-piece lay abandoned behind her, obviously discarded for the sake of comfort and movability. She reminded him of his daughters in that regard. They, too, preferred to ditch their armor for the sake of speed.
Once he was close enough, she turned towards him and stared at him with those awful eyes. Those Targaryen eyes. Purple and bright, so foreign on Elia's face...
"Commander, I've brought you Prince Oberyn." the Celtigar boy told her.
"Thank you, Clement," Rhaenys told the boy with a smile.
That smile was all Elia. Gentle and true, inspiring trust and loyalty. A stark contrast to the look of loathing she had reserved for him, the moment her eyes found him once more.
The boy meanwhile walked towards two others, who stood not far away from Rhaenys. Two more highborn lads wearing the colors of Westerosi Houses. Ashford and Sunglass.
"Here you are, uncle," Rhaenys said. She was no longer looking at him, though. Instead, she had raised her bow once more, an arrow nocked and ready. Her shot missed, but not by much.
"Your stance is wrong," Oberyn commented, "Your legs need to be further apart and your elbow needs to be higher when you pull the string."
She chuckled but did as he said. The next shot missed as well, but it nearly scratched the helmet of the target.
"Hopeless," Rhaenys sighed, "Jaime has certainly tried, but no matter how much I train, I will never be a competent archer."
"It's all a matter of practice," Oberyn replied.
He was surprised by this almost cordial exchange. The way she had looked at him before had only suggested loathing. This was almost... nice. But the moment didn't last when Rhaenys suddenly turned around and aimed her next arrow directly at his chest.
"But it is quite hard to miss a target that is this close," she growled. "Now you should give me one good reason why I shouldn't kill you for your attempted murder of my dearest friend and protector."
She would call a Lannister her friend? Was she unaware of what the Lannisters had done in King's Landing? Had no one told her that it was Tywin Lannister who had ordered the deaths of all Targaryens in the capital? Her mother had been killed by these people and yet... He got angry just thinking about this.
"I am here to avenge my sister and her children," he told her truthfully. "Tywin Lannister took them from me, so now I will take his family from him."
"Mother died, yes," Rhaenys agreed, "and Tywin Lannister will pay the price for his betrayal, but Jaime has been loyal and true, I will not allow you to harm him. Try again and I will end you."
Her threat would have been more convincing, had her arms not been shaking this much. It takes a lot of strength to shoot a bow this big and the longer she stood likes this, the sooner her strength would run out. Not to mention that Oberyn was sure that he would be able to beat his niece in a fight without much trouble. She lacked at least a dozen years of experience to be able to beat him in a duel. But the challenge would be a welcome one. Too bad that there were the three lads and at least a dozen archers on the roofs of the buildings surrounding them. He would have to wait for another chance to duel her.
Rhaenys' attempt to intimidate him was about to fail soon. Not that this would keep her from trying. She most certainly had inherited the same fiery temper that he had inherited from his mother. It had only skipped a generation it would seem. Elia had been a kind woman, her daughter showed no signs of the same.
"How are you still alive?" Oberyn demanded to know.
Rhaenys finally turned her bow away from him and released another shot at the training target. But instead of taking another arrow, one of the three lads came running and took the bow from her.
"I've had help," Rhaenys replied. "My mother's so-called family certainly wasn't there to defend me. But my father's loyal friend was. Jaime remained loyal to the bitter end. He smuggled me out of the city, just before the sacking had reached its gruesome height... He brought me to Essos, forsaking all he had been in the process. Here he raised me, trained me, and made sure that I would have an army at my command, should the day come that I have the need for it."
"Why would he do that?"
"Because he is a good man. A loyal man. A knight. One who does not need to fight with dirty tricks like poison and murder," Rhaenys replied. Her words became increasingly harsher towards the end of her declaration, as her eyes bore into Oberyn.
"Your knight will survive if that is what you fear," Oberyn told her, "The poison I've used is meant to paralyze the limbs. By tomorrow morning he shouldn't feel a thing."
"I know that. He is already back on his feet, though his movements are weighed down by your poison."
That was surprising, but Oberyn did his best not to show it. How stubborn could the man be, to force his body to obey despite the amount of poison in his blood?
"He wasn't meant to die because of the poison," Oberyn growled. "That would have been too easy a death for the son of that monster..."
"You are a cruel man, Oberyn Martell. You were not here just to kill, but to torture as well," she spat, "Tomorrow you and your oldest daughter will leave Tolos, never to return. The next time I see your face, I will kill you," Rhaenys said, as she turned away from him and towards one of the nearby buildings.
"Wait!" Oberyn demanded, "What about Nymeria?"
Rhaenys halted in her steps for just a moment. She didn't turn to look at him, but if she had, he would have surely seen the full extent of her hatred. "Myria is a traitor to the company. Attempted murder of the Lord Commander only knows one punishment. As the Lord Commander's second in command, I will kill her at sundown tomorrow."
"I won't allow..."
"Clement, see to it that Prince Oberyn is returned to his room. And double the guards, snakes are tricky prisoners," Rhaenys told the Celtigar boy in passing.
Then she was gone.
Was this really Elia's daughter? That sweet little child who had clung to him for a whole day the first time he had visited his sister on Dragonstone? She had been such a lovely child back then... This Rhaenys Targaryen, however, was truly a dangerous beast. A dragon, hiding under the skin of a Martell princess.
"This way please, Prince Oberyn," Clement said, as he motioned for Oberyn to follow him back towards the building that had come out of before. The building where Obara was sleeping in a room, oblivious to the danger they were in now.
Now he would have to find a way out of his prison. He had to save Nymeria before Rhaenys is able to do something they all will regret later.
They had placed several guards in front of his room. He counted six at first glance. But he was sure that there were more. The adjacent rooms were likely full of other mercenaries, all waiting for a chance to fight.
"Have a good night, Prince Oberyn," Clement told him. He had expected it to be some sort of mocking, but there was no falsehood to be found in his tone or his facial expression. An honest lad, it would seem. One of those enthralled by the kinder Rhaenys, that he had only seen a short glimpse of before.
It made him wonder, how many more Westerosi nobles were here in Rhaenys' employ? There had never even been a rumor of a Celtigar boy going east or missing all of a sudden. So the boy was likely either a member of a branch family or a third son. Someone unimportant to the family's future. Neither heir nor spare. Someone who could just disappear.
With a dull thud, the door closed behind him, leaving him alone with Obara. His eldest was still sleeping soundly. Better for her, she would need all her strength the next day. They would not be leaving without Nymeria.
A/N: Yeah, I mentioned before, this is a short one.
So this time around Rhaenys actually hates most of her family. In fact, she hates almost everyone who is not part of her mercenary company. In a way it's Jaime's fault, who never told anyone about Rhaenys' survival, to prevent her enemies from finding her. He had the best intentions here, but it turned out pretty bad in the end. Not to mention that Oberyn tried to kill the only person Rhaenys is truly close to. Not to mention Nymeria, who had joined the mercenaries and gained Jaime's trust only to create a situation where her father could kill him. The Martell's are currently not receiving any Christmas Cards from Rhaenys.
And make no mistake, those Westerosi nobles among Rhaenys' mercenaries had not come to Essos knowing that they would find a princess there. They came to Essos to join the mercenary company of Ser Jaime Lannister, the most famous knight turned mercenary known in Westeros. They are boys who came to make a name for themselves because they would not inherit anything from their families. Jaime's company, founded on the principles of Westerosi knighthood, is the best place for them to go. And then they find out that the second in command is a real princess... well, Rhaenys can be a pretty beguiling creature if she stops scowling for a time, so winning those foolish boys over was quite easy for her.